Tchami x Malaa French Producer/DJs Tchami and Malaa made their return to Aragon Ballroom this past weekend, playing their second sold-out show at uptown’s signature venue.
The two French house heavyweights played at the Aragon previously as support for DJ Snake’s Pardon My French Tour in April 2016, this time for a rather unconventional back-to-back set. Thousands of attendees came to jump to tracks like Malaa’s “Notorious” and Tchami’s remixes for Janet Jackson’s “Go Deep” and AlunaGeorge’s “You Know You Like It”. House music has an innate way of bringing a crowd together. Four-on-the-floor beats, although conventional and boring if dealt in the wrong fashion, seem to sync heart rates among show-goers. Everyone is always on the same page because the kick drum is beneficially predictable; it gives all people present a commonality, a pulse.
When Madeon and Porter Robinson brought their Shelter Tour to the Aragon, their live show featured exclusive live edits and mashups of each of their repertoires of original music as well as homogenized visuals; both artists played live instruments, triggered live samples, and sang simultaneously as a duo. Everything was rehearsed.
When I heard Tchami and Malaa would be doing something similar, I was interested to see how it would work. Visual aesthetic for electronic music artists is key to the live experience, and Tchami’s and Malaa’s respective aesthetics directly juxtaposed on stage was one of the more interesting things I’ve seen at a collaborative show between two different artists. The duo’s stage design was halved; Tchami’s decks atop a church altar stage right and Malaa’s setup stage left between two 55-gallon drums. Each artist was backed by a set of LED panels framed by respectively different scenes upstage from the decks. Tchami’s half of the stage was built to look like a white stone chapel, complete with a confession screen. Malaa’s half was complete with an industrial, dark gray paint job and graffiti. Each even had its own unique visuals firing off on the LEDs. But what especially struck me was the lack of practicality in the separate setups. Typically, for a back-to-back DJ set, the multiple DJs play on the same set of decks and a single mixer. Tchami and Malaa each had their own setup on separate tables with separate mixers. I spent half their set trying to figure out logistically how that setup was operating. Could they each hear each other’s cues? Were the two setups synced up to each other? Who was controlling the master volume? I’d beg the question whether they were faking their set, but it appeared as though the decks each DJ was using were functional. I don’t think they were miming a pre-recorded set. I would, however, love to find out how that live setup was operated between the two acts.
Although for the sake of visual aesthetic, it was entertaining to watch the back-and-forth between two very different looks, it seemed plainly impractical to have two separate sets of decks. Regardless, there is something to say for Tchami and Malaa and the brand of globally-recognized house music they’ve built. I look forward to what they do next.