It was a tight squeeze at U Street Music Hall late Wednesday night where Barcelona DJ-producer John Talabot was making his stateside debut. But for many, the gig provided another first. It was quiet enough on the U Hall dance floor for intimate chit-chat.
Its colossal sound system has made U Street Music Hall one of the most talked-about clubs in Washington — and also one of the least talked-inside-of. The bass is religiously and gloriously loud. But Talabot — joined onstage by another fellow wearing a matching ball cap — performed his exquisite house music at volumes far below normal. A slew of friends, musicians and music journos all approached me with the same greeting/gripe: “It’s too quiet!”
Was it? Sorta. I love feeling bass frequencies vibrate my guts as much as the next person. But it also seemed like Talabot was asking us to pay closer attention to the contours, the texture, the feel. That’s rare. Most DJs are fine with treating us like the dude in the old Maxell commercial.
In a world where everything feels cranked up to 11, Talabot’s set was a riddle. Its biggest shortcoming was also its greatest charm.