The best Boiler Room sets

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Tom Simmonds gives us his top five performances

The last decade was marked by increased connectivity and entertainment media taking new forms. You can access millions of songs, films and books at the click of a button, and from sources once inaccessible. Yet it’s effortless to feel that this increased connection is cold, the warm atmosphere of a live set replaced by the cold and digital.

Since its founding, Boiler Room has provided a sort of compromise between the old and new. The classic image of a horde of drug-addled 20-somethings swarming the decks like mosquitoes to a fluorescent lamp is nostalgic to some. With a platform expanded across genres, it is fitting to showcase some of the most noteworthy Boiler Rooms.

Folamour – FLY Open Air 2019

Grey, overcast days in Scotland and old-school funk and disco are a rather unconventional pairing, and so too is dropping ABBA in the middle of a Boiler Room. Against seemingly insurmountable odds (the Scottish climate) French DJ and producer Folamour delivered an hourlong set of funky tracks, shocking the crowd by mixing in ABBA’s disco classic ‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme’. The French dance formula of amped-up disco and funk all the way back to Daft Punk has had crowds moving, and Folamour demonstrates the continued viability of this approach.

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Nicolas Jaar – NYC Clown and Sunset

After a decade of pushing the boundaries of electronic music both under his name and under his critically acclaimed side-project Against All Logic, it is easy to view Nico Jaar as somewhat above Boiler Room sets, confined to the studio. In this 2013 set, however, viewers and partygoers saw the capability of the critical darling in a club-setting. From using the live radio from an old boombox in samples and deploying his laptop keyboard as a synth, Jaar carries the innovative flare of his productions into an enchanting techno set. As one youtube comment put it ‘Artist: Nicolas Jaar, Genre: Nicolas Jaar’. An innovator both in and out of the studio.

Kaytranada – Montreal, 2013

We can ceaselessly talk about how Kaytranada, the critically acclaimed hip-hop and house pioneer delivered a roof-raising disco-house set, incorporating numerous French-touch, Caribbean and modern EDM influences, yet this would fail to do this particularly bizarre Boiler Room justice. For not only is this a great set, but it’s also an anthropology case study. Watching the crowd, you will see prospective bachelors get rejected, fights nearly break out, a woman doing her very best impression of a robot trying to be human and men bond over male pattern baldness. Truly an insight into the state of the house, and also nature.

Raider Klan – Rap Life LA

Florida Underground rap collective Raider Klan has shaped much of hip-hop throughout the past decade, and this Boiler Room is arguably a prequel to the later careers of numerous of the MC’s. Featuring underground legends such as SpaceGhostPurrp, as well as several Odd Future members off-duty, artists such as BONES and Xavier Wulf cut their teeth on several beats, from dark, Memphis sounds to Chicago Drill.

Ross from Friends – London

House was made deep in late 80s Chicago, yet the efforts of Ross from Friends show that not only can a house be deep, it can also be warm, nostalgic, and boundary-pushing. With bass-heavy, 80s sampling songs, and the addition of a live guitar solo, Ross from Friends’ set is unique. With all the hubbub of a standard, cramped London venue, the set is sonically comforting, creating nostalgia for a time we were yet to be born.

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