Last Night Electro Saved My Sanity: MSTRKRFT in WNNPG

The first time MSTRKRFT came through Winnipeg I didn’t bother going and then I regretted it. When you realize that the only artists from Modular that you will ever get a chance to see come to your city are Wolfmother and MSTRKRFT, you start to panic when you miss the better of the two. Of course I had seen one half of MSTRKRFT a couple of years back when he opened for Nine Inch Nails in Death From Above 1979, and I loved it. When Jesse F. Keeler hooked up with Al-P to become MSTRKRFT, I fell in love with their brand of electro beats that sit well next to the likes of Justice, Daft Punk and Simian Mobile Disco. Not to mention their stunning remixing abilities. So, needless to say, I decided that I just had to go to the Exchange Event Centre last night for MSTRKRFT without a second thought. Oddly enough, it only hit me much (much) later that night that a show like this was a different beast from the ones I normally attend. Throughout the night I discovered the difference between a traditional live gig and a DJ gig, and in some ways, the similarities, too. And for some reason, I can’t say I had ever given much thought to it before.

The time advertised for the gig was 9pm, but thankfully, my friend, Lisa, and I didn’t really show up til 10 because, as we soon discovered, that still meant we had another two hours to go before the opener Felix Cartal came on. As we ventured further into the club, I started thinking the idiotic pseudo-bouncer needn’t have scrutinized my ID so keenly. All he had to do was clock the level of my awkwardness and displacement in a place like this. The reasons why I never was a clubber came flooding back to me as drunken couples groped each other and girls tottered around in high heels and short shorts. The music preceding the actual show, while infinitely better than the stuff played at Top 40 bars, wasn’t particularly inspiring nor distinguishable (aside from snatches of Hot Chip and Justice), and Lisa and I found ourselves seated at the back of the club, yawning from the stressful day’s work we had already put in at her office. And probably from rapidly encroaching old age as well. So, as any good curmudgeon would do, we sat there mocking the younger people around us.

There were the girls in matching gold shoes, holding hands like they were part of some nightclub buddy system. There was a b-boy wannabe with a hockey mask permanently perched atop his head (and baseball cap), which led us to the conclusion that the sole purpose of the mask was to keep his hat in place. There was the guy who appeared to be leading an invisible conga line up and down the club, chugging away like the little engine that had no dance partners. There was a guy in neon green sunglasses – a Corey Hart of the long-lost rave scene. One of our personal favourites was Mr. Tall and Awkward, who seemed to be roaming aimlessly alone and waiting for MSTRKRFT – we felt that he was a kindred spirit. Nearly every girl looked like she was trying too hard while nearly every boy looked like he didn’t care one iota for trying at all. And many seemed very tied up with mediating and commemorating their own experience whether by digital photo or mobile text. But like pretty much most gigs I’ve been to, I got the distinct feeling that it was more of an opportunity to be seen rather than to hear a particular artist’s music. It was all very interesting from an anthropological standpoint, but the night was beginning to wear on us. At midnight, Felix Cartal came on, but honestly, I didn’t get much out of him – there were some fairly dissonant and jarring mixes happening, and his set just ended up feeling too repetitive and not enough to get me anywhere near the sweaty, flying limbs on the dancefloor. It’s not like I couldn’t stand it, but it’s more like I wasn’t affected by it.

However, when MSTRKRFT took the stage, I began my stealth journey to the centre of the dancefloor. That pulsing, persistent 4/4 rock beat that makes MSTRKRFT one of my favourite electro acts soothed my otherwise stressed out body and propelled me further and further into the inner core of gyrating bodies. Aside from the sweat raining down on me from the shirtless, grinding idiot atop the platform and the rather fierce knee to the back of my head from another dancer on the aforementioned platform, I had a pretty euphoric time. I literally lost myself in the music, usually shutting my eyes and moving like a de-programmed robot (no sexy dance from me). I was whipping my head around so fast that I became completely disoriented and detached from the people moving around me. Between the unsure footing rolling on top of discarded glow sticks and the green lights spidering across the ceiling and walls, I seemed to effectively separate my mind from my body. While I caught glimpses of MSTRKRFT on the stage from time to time, rather than focusing on the artist, I focused on the music in a new way. But at the same time, I couldn’t tell you exactly what was being played or remixed at every moment, and that was okay. It was pure feeling without concentration – perhaps it was the bliss of a brief numbness to the outside world. Like that moment in the film I Heart Huckabees when Mark Wahlberg and Jason Schwartzman smack themselves in the head with a big plastic ball to achieve a state of non-thought for a fleeting moment. But this was for an hour and a half. And it included a complete abandoning of kinesthetic sense. As I made my way back up the stairs from my drowning on the dancefloor, I felt like I had sea legs.

One of the memorable highlights for me was the remix that featured bits of Hot Chip and then pieces of Happy Mondays’ Hallelujah. I also recognized their remix of fellow labelmate Wolfmother’s Woman, Justice’s D.A.N.C.E. (apparently a hot track for the night considering it was played in some form three different times) and Kylie Minogue’s Wow along with the odd track off of debut LP, The Looks and, of course, latest single Bounce/Vuvuvu. The set ended with a rather jubilant remix of Daft Punk’s One More Time, which allowed for audience participation akin to the live shows I’m accustomed to as MSTRKRFT dampened the vocals and everyone joined in for the “Don’t stop the dancin'” refrain. By the end of the night (or early morning), I felt just as exhausted and vindicated as I do leaving any good show, yet knowing that it was the show itself and not the environment that I had fallen for. I could do without most of the people and without the preamble of parading poseurs, but there is always life-preservation in good music. In this case, it was postmodern pastiche as remedy for the postmodern condition.

This tour is continuing on into the US, so if you live in any of the cities they’re hitting, get tickets and let MSTRKRFT’s beats give you that pummeling gift of oblivion for one night. Fist of God, indeed.


2 Responses to “Last Night Electro Saved My Sanity: MSTRKRFT in WNNPG”

  1. 1 JC
    October 12, 2008 at 8:55 am

    “But like pretty much most gigs I’ve been to, I got the distinct feeling that it was more of an opportunity to be seen rather than to hear a particular artist’s music.”

    Get yourself over here…..its usually a bit different.

    Glad it all worked out for you in the end.

    Oh and the thing you were doing in the club with your friend…..that’s a favourite game of myself and my other half when we go on holiday and there’s folk we dont care for at the resort….

  2. 2 Krista
    October 16, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Aww c’mon..the guy with the hockey mask was awesome. He was being a super fan (you’ve seen MSTRKRFT promo pics and merch with hockey masks right?), which is much better than the people there solely for the purpose of being seen. It was an awesome show. I too was there making fun of young ‘uns, but unfortunately, I was also guilty of partaking in some digital documentation of my time there.

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave


So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

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Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun


Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head


Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away


Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners


Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away


You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender


I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding


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You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

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With fat men who once met the MC5

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Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black


Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side


Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb


Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape


Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah


And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning


My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it


Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love


We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's


Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south


Running on


As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different


LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell


Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are


You must let her go

She's not crying



Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times



Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone


Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't


So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need


The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest


Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know


No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more


All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids


Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome


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