Of all the live attractions on offer during Red Bull Music Academy 2013, none might have meant more to New Yorkers than celebrating 12 Years of DFA Records. The brainchild of James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy, DFA was the label that brought indie rockers to the dance floor in droves; those sitting out the party still found joy in how the label expanded the parameters of dance music.
It was no surprise then to find that each of the three performance rooms inside the cavernous Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn were full barely an hour after doors opened last Saturday night.
Even the less well-known annals of DFA history were on show. Prinzhorn Dance School, from the UK, were in town for their first major US show, and the duo (with added drummer) took a starring role with their taught, post-punk attack.
Songs like 'Crackerjack Docker' take the most minimal of riffs -- a bass riff at that! -- and ideas, and build on them until they become propulsive. The crowd, initially standoffish, found themselves dancing to the band’s rhythms.
Meanwhile, London’s Factory Floor made a rare appearance for an electronic set performed by Gabe Gurnsey. Standing stock still the entire time, Gurnsey manipulated intense and often brutal industrial beats. Claire Evans, Yacht's captivating frontwoman, on other hand, did not stop bouncing during the band's energetic set.
But the main draw of the night for many was the promise of a two-hour DJ set from Murphy himself. At the appointed hour, the former LCD Soundsystem frontman made himself known by delivering a short speech, in which he issued shout outs to the Rapture, Juan MacLean, Shit Robot, Black Dice and other DFA alumni.
As the set began, Murphy chose not to stride out on the stage where the other acts had performed but instead remained in a darkened corner of the balcony. Even after the status and (whisper it) fame Murphy has accrued in the music world, the reluctant king of all he surveyed chose to let his selection of disco-funk take the limelight.
After 12 years, the egalitarian and unapologetically music-centric spirit of DFA remains very much intact. Long may it continue because aside from anything else, it’s an ethos that makes for one hell of a party.