The latest In The Mood edition promised a “sensational audiovisual experience” via fashion and visual arts partnerships. Did they deliver?
When an event is touted as something unique and special, of course our interest will be piqued. But a well-intentioned press release could amount to nothing more than hot air if the event doesn’t live up to the hype. Many promoters face this challenge all the time: hype it up and hope to deliver, or “underpromise and overdeliver” by playing down the hype. Nicole Moudaber’s In The Mood at Avant Gardner selected the hype train and we were really excited.
While reading the announcement, we thought about when Avant Gardner partnered with 404.zero on a visual arts installation that was truly one-of-a-kind and quite spectacular. While In The Mood did not deliver something as robust, it did deliver on the promise of a “sensational audiovisual experience” via fashion and visual arts partnerships. Where the 404.zero installation was meant to take your breath away, In The Mood was more carefully crafted and fully weaved into the fabric of a warehouse techno party. I found that In The Mood was less in your face and more respectful of underground events; a lot like the recent Teksupport series. Only better.
The most unique component of In The Mood was definitely the fashion design showcased on stage.
Partnering with conceptual fashion designer Gelareh Designs allowed In The Mood to create a stage presence unlike others seen before. Where many events of its ilk may have Go-Go Dancers, these were way more than sexy dancers simply shaking their booty. I mean, they were in fact, sexy dancers shaking their booty, but they were also showcasing cutting-edge fashion that ran the gamut from scantily clad fetishwear to 70s disco-style flared pants and collared shirts.
There was a runway section on the stage allowing the dancers to sashay back and forth, also giving way to partnered dance scenes. The dancers really raised the bar for a typical underground party, giving the audience something more to look at than the DJ bopping around behind the decks. All of this was set on the backdrop of cinematic visuals that made for an immersive experience.
As with any first-run, In The Mood was not without flaws. My two bits of critical feedback could be easily overcome as this concept grows. First, while the visual projections were absolutely beautiful, I’m not certain they were adequate in highlighting the visual arts. Perhaps this was simply because the screen doesn’t take up the full wall. Second, while the fashions and dancers were absolutely stunning, unless you were near the front, all you could see were silhouettes. Since fashion was an integral part of the show, we would have liked to see dancers projected on large side screens for the back of the crowd to appreciate.
Countering any minor criticisms on the visual experience, the music was absolutely outstanding!
We love an immersive experience but in the end, we’re here for the music, and In The Mood absolutely delivered. The lineup was stellar; there were some b2b moments, and every performer seemed like they were just having the time of their life. Despite the large venue and added visual components, much of the event felt like a house party that Nicole Moudaber threw with her friends that happen to be DJs. And we just happen to have been the lucky ones she invited into her living room.
Nicole Moudaber herself had three slots on the lineup – she opened, filled the headliner slot, and closed in a b2b set with Chris Liebing. Sadly, we missed her opening set but arrived in time for Skin and Luigi Madonna who were both superb. Not knowing much about either of these acts, I thoroughly enjoyed the techno journey from both. During Luigi Madonna’s set I ID’d a number of tracks only to find more names just as unfamiliar to me. I’ll be exploring both of these artists more, now, as well as the others in my Shazam from the night.
The next four hours belonged to Nicole Moudaber and Chris Liebing, and let me just say, those hours went by way too fast!
Honestly, everything about the next four hours was truly magical. We wandered towards the back for about an hour of Liebing’s set and found a superior sonic location near the control booth. During our time there we found ourselves on the perimeter of a spectacular dance circle. Since we couldn’t see the stage dancers from this distance, we turned our attention to the “amateurs” (who were anything but) dancing with us in the crowd. The shufflers we saw were terrific, as expected. What wasn’t expected were the breakdancers. That’s right, there were several breakdancers in this circle and I must say it was the first time I saw breakdancing to techno. It totally worked!
Chris Liebing played a 90-minute set before Nicole Moudaber came on for her 90-minutes, and then they played an hour b2b. The entire four hours were seamless, energetic, and had a stunning soundscape. I often joke that the genres of techno and trance are named backward because IMHO proper techno is what will put you into a trance. Leibing and Moudaber validated this by putting my crew into a state of blissful movement that could not be stopped. Time flew by.
As the dance circle broke down, we moved to the front so we could appreciate the stage dancers for the last couple of hours. Lo and behold, a new dance circle was formed in our location and, despite the tight crowd, the audience was super respectful of space and really vibing as one all night. At one point we looked up on stage and two of the breakdancers from the crowd were now on the runway! This may have been staged, or they may have been VIPs with stage access, but it truly felt as if they were plucked from the audience to join the show, just making the event that much more fully immersive.
Do you want to know what 5 AM looks like at In The Mood? It looks a lot like midnight with nearly the entire crowd in place till the very end!
There are many shows, no matter how good they are, where I question my endurance at some point over the night. This was not one of those shows. Instead, it was easy for time to pass and when 5am arrived we were all quite surprised it was over. The photo above was taken just before 5 AM and you can see that the crowd had barely thinned out. About 40,000 (dance) steps, or 20-miles later and we left Avant Gardner still filled with energy and looking for an afterparty!
All in all, In The Mood was absolutely amazing and truly delivered on its promise. As the first in this new format, there are a few small things that can be improved, but this is always the case when organizers try new things. I applaud Nicole Moudaber and her team for pushing the envelope and taking risks. You should definitely get yourself to a local In The Mood when it comes to your area!