Live Review: Moderat @ The Vogue Theatre, Vancouver – May 23rd 2016

The Vogue Theatre was a sea of sacred geometry and ethereal electronica courtesy of Moderat on Monday evening. With each member at the helm of their respective percussive or melodic roles, Moderat took the audience on a tour of their most recent album, III, in a method that spanned the aural, visual, and physical spectrum.

Moderat is a collaborative project between German electronic artists Apparat (Sascha Ring) and Modeselektor (Gernot Bronsert, Sebastian Szary)­. With a history that spans over fourteen years, this veteran act seems to have reached their greatest moment of harmony together on this tour. As witnessed on Monday night, with The Vogue packed from wall-to-wall, their popularity may be reaching a zenith as well.

Beginning with “Ghostmother” off of III, Sascha Ring’s haunting vocals filled the room and set the tone for the evening: dreamy, engulfing, and entrancing. With a simple setup of three tables on the stage, a synthesizer or two, and a microphone, the band placed a large emphasis on lighting and an incredible media display projected behind them. Each song was accompanied by corresponding video that began with sine waves and fractals blending into one another, moving on to ghostly figures, dancing illuminated amongst a black void.

I should mention that projected onto the screen prior to the band’s arrival was a request for the audience – “For everyone’s enjoyment please do not use any kind of flash or light for filming.” – a plea that should precede every live show at this point (and include loud talking and texting, like at the movies!). This disclaimer was adhered to quite well by the crowd and had it not been, the incredible media experience may have fallen flat.

After moving through the majority of III, the group cherry-picked hits from their previous releases but none seemed to hold the same clout as their newer work, proving to this reviewer that Moderat truly has found its collaborative sweet spot. Focus turned from Ring’s vocals toward percussion and modulation with the song “Animal Trails” – perhaps to keep equilibrium between the Apparat and Modeselektor halves of the group. Whatever the reason, it served the act well to keep the performance as dynamic as possible in order to maintain the audience’s attention.

The only weak point of the evening seemed to be the difficulty in hearing Sascha Ring’s lower-range vocals, however, it in no way impacted the experience. With more lasers than a sci-fi film and a spectrum of noise and media that seemed to surround the theatre, Moderat’s performance was overwhelming in the best way possible. Lighting and visuals are nothing new for a live performance, especially in the electronic world, but to do it in such a complementary fashion to the music (not simply as frenetic stimulation) made the evening more complete, more artistic, and certainly more memorable.

Danke shön, Moderat!

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