It was a perfect fall night as I walked a few blocks from my Manhattan apartment to the Hammerstein Ballroom at 34th and 8th Ave, listening to my newest downloads and getting pumped for the night. Justice was in the Big Apple and you better believe I was going to see them…no matter what.
I usually enjoy the quick entry perks that come with press access, but tonight was an exception as I waited with all the other eager fans to be processed through security. I passed the time by watching concertgoers, faces creased with anticipation, jumping up and down exclaiming to friends that their favorite Justice tracks would absolutely, without a doubt, be played, while off-key refrains of “We Are Your Friends” and ‘Audio, Video, Disco” drifted up from the crowd down the block. After making it through security (tragically my lighter and cigs did not), I grabbed my ticket at the door and finally entered the palatial space that is the Hammerstein Ballroom. Aging, with its yellow painted walls and 4 stories of balconies, the space seemed more suited to an indie-rock, hipster crowd than the dance music oriented rave-heads this crowd was about to turn into.
Securing my spot side-stage along with other industry peeps, I settled in for the show. Up first was the delectably funky Canadian duo, Chromeo, with a DJ set. Spinning a mix of electro-pop, disco, hip hop and electro-house they definitely set the tone for what was to come. Transitioning easily between their own “Night by Night,“ “The Big Bad Wolf” by Duck Sauce, “Mercy” by Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz, “Heads Will Roll” by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Around The World” by Daft Punk and “Kilometer” by Sebastien Tellier to name a few.
After Chromeo closed out their set at around 9pm the crowd waited eagerly as roadies prepared the stage. For 15 minutes the ballroom was humming with the sound of excited voices when suddenly cheers erupted as the final tarp was pulled from the Justice cross DJ booth and the lights dimmed. A single yellow spotlight back-lit the booth to show Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay wearing bright red silk Justice jackets as a synthed out, electro-rock version of the US national anthem blared from the speakers.
Jumping into their set without hesitation Justice used various samples and sections of their own songs to create new arrangements, live mashups and acapella overdubs of their best known songs that kept concertgoers on their toes trying to anticipate what would come next. Over the course of the night we heard a variety of Justice favorites like “Civilization,” “On and On,” New Lands” and “Audio, Video, Disco” from their most recent album perfectly mixed and mashed with classics like “We Are Your Friends,” “Stress,” ‘DVNO,” “Phantom” and even one of their oldest remixes, “NY Excuse” by Soulwax (Justice Remix). The whole experience was taken to another level when their DJ booth split in half and slowly opened to reveal a keyboard bathed in white light on which Gaspard played an acoustic version of “D.A.N.C.E.”
However, the night took a turn for the comically hilarious when an over-excited (overly-drunk??) fan actually fell off the third story balcony! After trying to get Justice’s attention and leaning a bit too far he slipped over the edge, hung on for a moment and then fell into the crowd below. P-Thugg of Chromeo was on the balcony beneath him and also saw the event, saying “He was holding onto the railing and when he fell his arms hit the second railing, where I was. And then he fell onto some people on the floor.” Reports are that everyone is A-OK though and after the one over-zealous fan was escorted from the building on a stretcher, things went back to relatively normal and Justice finished out the night on a good note with “Parade.”