Richie Hawtin @ U Street Music Hall: Hail the Grownup
If the assumption is that Richie Hawtin knows exactly what he's doing at any given time, then it's obvious that he brought Minus labelmate Gaiser along on this mini-tour for a reason. At the U Hall last night, Gaiser played the role of respectful mischief-maker, taking the deliberate thud-thud-thud of minimal techno and pumping it full of buildups and buzzy effects. (He's much quieter on his records.) The playfulness—if minimal techno can ever be called playful—was a good fit for the amiable, relatively sober school-night crowd.
And it allowed Hawtin to make a statement of sorts: About 15 minutes into his set, after what was essentially a warmup of no-frills tracks, he started pulling in more accents and nuances (nothing too spooky), and the crowd's energy level went up perceptibly. He smiled. It was pure finesse—a reminder that it's possible to be subtle in a room with a monster sound system. And from that point on, the two sides of Hawtin—techno god, clever sound artist—were in balance. Who knows if the tour (a simple DJ set, not a full-blown Plastikman show) will help sell any of these big ol' Arkives boxed sets. But that's probably besides the point; Hawtin seems content with simply being on top of his game.