By midnight the line outside Vagabond had reached critical mass, stretching down the block outside. The place was practically at wall-to-wall capacity inside, so it's likely that at least a handful of the additional hundred or so people outside got turned down at the door. Off the Radar's DJ Danny Ashe had the party bumpin' in the front room with a selection of classic and new funky favorites. You also can't go wrong with the Vag's Friday-night $1 beer specials, of which it seemed most partook copious amounts before Glass Candy took the stage in the main room around 1 a.m.
As the duo of Johnny Jewel and Ida No kicked off their intense set, the first thing that struck was what a different beast they are live. The somewhat lethargic, Quaalude-hazed sound of their studio recordings becomes a raging and dynamic sonic bacchanal onstage. Producer/keyboardist Jewel manned his synths and hardware with a certain energetic improvisational flair missing from the more Spartan arrangements of their recorded tracks. Meanwhile, vocalist Ida No belted out her songs with the greatest vigor while feeding ravenously off the crowd's energy, oozing pure sex and charisma. And boy, can that girl move! In her '80s leotard, she pranced and shook it around the stage barefoot like Jane Fonda on peyote.
The pair kicked off with some of the most popular material from its 2007 album B/E/A/T/B/O/X, a crowd-pleasing move that had the packed roomful of people bouncing ecstatically from the get-go. Jacked-up and upbeat versions of "Digital Versicolor," "Beatific," and "Candy Castle" preceded some older, punkier material from their first releases and some stuff from their 2008 Deep Gems album. These included "Geto Boys" and an epic rendition of the "Miss Broadway" electro-house remix that was easily the highlight of the night. Here's an act with all the musical talent and onstage presence of the finest disco-era performers, combined with all the grit and raw attitude of the punk era's most daring provocateurs. These two show a generation weaned on jaded and frigid DJs how to really get down, and we love them for it.