On Saturday night, Resident Advisor took over the Squarehouse stage. While French acts AZF and Raheem Experience more than adequately warmed up the dance floor, the room properly came to life when Avalon Emerson hit the decks. The Berlin-based artist wasted little time in ratcheting up the tempo, diving headfirst into a ravey session of techno with a healthy dose of breakbeats. Emerson has something of a penchant for brash drum patterns and bright, crunchy synths, but even though she often pulls from a vintage sound palette, her DJing never comes across as an exercise in nostalgia. This set was no different—whether she was reaching for an old classic, an underappreciated gem or something new that nobody had ever heard before, she made it all sound unmistakably her own.
Some of this undoubtedly stemmed from Emerson's celebrated arsenal of personal edits and remixes, but it went beyond selection. Simply put, she was a charismatic presence. Having seen her play countless times before (full disclosure: her first record came out on Icee Hot, a now-defunct label I used to run), I'm very familiar with her DJing, but on Saturday she performed with a palpable sense of confidence—some might call it a playful swagger—that took her talents to a whole new level. Beyond that, she exuded a genuine sense of joy from behind the decks. Plenty of DJs claim to love their craft, but Emerson is one of the few who manage to display that passion without crossing the line into over-the-top antics. If she can maintain the sheer vitality she displayed at The Peacock Society, there won't be many limits to how far she can go.
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