"It's Not Quite Techno; It's Not Quite House: Nicolas Jaar's Sold-Out Gothic Theatre Set Last Weekend

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Last Saturday, a friend hit me up to check out Nicolas Jaar at The Gothic Theatre in Denver. He had a spare guest pass and I took it on a whim. I didn’t know what to expect going in. I wasn’t even aware of the music genre I was about to witness. But man, was I in for a treat.

Jaar.

Jaar.

Nicolas Jaar is a 26-year-old mad scientist doing experiments with electronic music in front of massive crowds. It’s not quite techno; it’s not quite house, but it’s got both of those in there and then some. He is definitely pushing the envelope in this world of music. Apparently, none of his live performances are ever alike, and he is constantly improvising with live sampling onstage, a method which sends you on a journey between “rhythmic anguish” (his words) and meditative states with deep house beats, groovy rhythms, and otherworldly sounds which you just have to hear and feel for yourself. But, be warned, things may get trancey. Between the ambient, contemplative sounds and artfully composed lighting, it’s easy to get lost in the experience that is a Nicolas Jaar show… or to get really uncomfortable because you’re not sure what to make of what your eyes and ears are witnessing.

Check out Jaar’s “Swim/Mistress”:

Post-show I had the chance to roll backstage to meet the guy behind this crazy experience. As my friend and I strolled into the green room, Jaar must have caught me checking out his baseball hat. He looked up and said right off, “Man, I know this hat looks stupid and people are always asking why I wear one, but it actually has a purpose. It gives me shade so I see what I’m doing and it puts me in the zone.” From there, my chat with Jaar proved he is quirky and super easy going. His Chilean accent had the room charmed as he joked around, and when I revealed my journalistic tendencies with BolderBeat he laughed and smiled,“There could have been some good conversations here, but now that you told me that...” and the sentenced trailed off into all of us laughing. Touché, Nico.

Which by the way, yes, Nicolas Jaar goes by Nico. When I called him by his full name, he said, “Nicolas?” and a wave of nervousness set over me. “My father is the only one who calls me by that name, and only when I’ve done something wrong and I’m getting reprimanded for it.” he laughed. Ok, the dude’s got a sense of humor.  

Nicolas Jaar is at the tail end of his North American tour, of which many of his shows have sold out, including Denver’s. Jaar will jet to Europe next, and you can keep up with him here.

-Mirna

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.