By MEGHAN KEARNEY // Playing among the crowd, Four Tet played hours of electronic jams well past curfew at Wonder Ballroom
Making Portland’s Wonder Ballroom a space of his own, Kieran Hebden the man behind Four Tet, threw a Wednesday night Portland audience for a total loop with an out of the ordinary Wonder experience. Opener Ben UFO along with Hebden as Four Tet kicked off their sets right as doors opened, no breaks, and one unyielding five hour dance party that didn't cease until 1am.
Hebden, a skilled and eclectic producer/DJ is no stranger to extended sets as Four Tet, and here he turned the otherwise classic Wonder Ballroom venue space into an intimate, warehouse style atmosphere.
Entering the doors of Wonder Ballroom introduced an unusually dark room and a completely empty stage. But beats engulfed ears and bodies crossing through the threshold of the outside world and into the ballroom.
Once in, a push through dancing bodies made way for a tiny space on the dance floor where Ben UFO had already begun spinning songs and an enthralled crowd gathered intimately around. This made for an unparalleled experience; the artists as much of the crowd as the crowd itself. A small table and minimal gear set-up contrasted the stature of enormous sounds that would come from it throughout the evening.
By 10pm when Hebden joined Ben UFO at the table for a few tracks before fully taking over, the room was warmed up and ready for the next three hours of electronic magic. As anticipated, the set started out mellow, building energy as it progressed.
The DJ set allowed Hebden freedom to spin tracks from across his personal catalog, all while bringing in mixes flawlessly stitched together creating seamless flows track to track. The set included some of Four Tet’s best collaborations including his alt mix of “SeeSaw,” from Jamie xx’s record In Colour. He also included a number of beautiful tracks born out of his side project Percussions. “Digital Arpeggios,” a Percussions single released late last year offered nine amazing minutes of well-crafted synth arpeggios sweeping back and forth in waves, adding layer upon layer throughout the joy-inducing track.
On top of a blend of originals, collabs and mixes Hebden also threw numerous samples into his set including a few minutes with Justin Timberlake. Much to be expected in the wake of recent weeks, Hebden also brought the room together with a tributary few moments of Prince. To no surprise, the room erupted in cheers, as the emotional moment powered on in body movements that Prince himself would be proud of.
In the end, the mid-week late night dance party was enough to force Portland’s most energized partiers into dance-sponsored slumbers. You can check out more of Hebden’s tunes from Four Tet to Percussions and through all those wonderful mixes here.
Four Tet’s next nearby appearance will be at Sasquatch! Music Festival. You can read our preview for the fest here and jump right on over to grab your tickets.