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KC’s Music Monday: Jon Hopkins + Four Tet at EMPAC

This past Thursday, EMPAC hosted a dual billing of equally brilliant electronic producers and composers Jon Hopkins and Four Tet in what arguably was one of the best shows I’ve attended in 2011.

Andrew and I last covered Four Tet at Camp Bisco, and although that was one of our highlights of the entire festival weekend, I can’t stress enough that seeing Four Tet perform at EMPAC surpassed Bisco immensely. It was almost as if EMPAC was designed for Four Tet and Jon Hopkins specifically and was indubitably the venue of choice, adapting to the style and music of each performer respectably.

Check out Jon Hopkin’s remix of Four Tet’s “Vessel” and hit the jump for the rest of the review.

EMPAC opened its cafe prior to the sold-out show, where people gathered casually, drinking wine and soaking in the beautiful building. During the performance, a TV set up with speakers, played what was going on in the room where the music was played, so people could take a break from the dense crowd without missing anything.

The night began with Jon Hopkins, who is a London-based producer and a total #redhothottie. Formerly the keyboardist for Imogen Heap, he has worked with Brian Eno, Coldplay and David Holmes, as well as composing the soundtrack for the film Monsters. Busy guy. And to top it all off, today is the release of his latest EP on Domino Records, called Honest Words, alongside King Creosote and several guest musicians. Put Jon Hopkins on your radar, if you haven’t already.

Behind Hopkin’s set up, which included a piano, was a giant backdrop projecting random glitchy analog-based graphs and charts that changed information throughout his set. My favorite 3-piece chart read “First Thing I Noticed About Her Face,” “First Date Destination,” and “Why It Won’t Ever Work.” The charts were interesting to read and the screen also projected Jon Hopkin’s hands as he worked the equipment, triggering floor-shaking bass and building all sorts of live, spontaneous moments and then playing eerily quiet piano notes that made me want to hold my breath as to not interrupt his sounds. It was as concise as it was corrupt and scattered, like he was telling a story that was more of a Choose Your Own Adventure book from the future than anything else, while still maintaining an engaging familiarity. It was awesome.

Four Tet followed with a performance just as engaging, although he took it in a different direction than where Hopkins led us, with a more dance-oriented focus. We joked Four Tet was checking his Twitter before he stepped up on stage to perform, poking fun at how much plaid people were donning in the crowd.

Hipster assumptions aside, the crowd at Four Tet was there for the music and the environment, which made the evening that more enjoyable. There weren’t any distractions, save for one douchey photographer who kept lingering on and around the stage, such as people partying too hard or waving neon lights in my face.

It was definitely a favorable balance of factors, such as the vibe from the crowd, the basic house lights, the amazing sound system and how in control Four Tet is with what he’s doing. Both Four Tet and Jon Hopkins are very tact in their production and craftsmanship, and the quality of EMPAC as a venue certainly did them both justice.

Be sure to check out Andrew’s full photo set here!

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