The wooden floorboards vibrated as a syncopated pulse of waving hands, pounding feet and sweaty denim-clad bodies rocked the concert hall. New York City music duo, The Knocks, along with its openers Blu Detiger and Young & Sick, played a sold-out crowd at Concord Music Hall (2047 N. Milwaukee Ave.) Thursday, Feb. 14 as a part of its tour “New York Narcotic.”
The electronica duo James “JPatt” Patterson and Ben “Brocc” Ruttner dropped its album “New York Narcotic” in September 2018, crossing genres of hip-hop, electronica and funk to create a ‘70s disco-like vintage set with a 21st century appeal. Its album is a tribute to the duo’s home city of New York, which they describe as a drug, calling you back no matter how far you stray from the city lights.
The Knocks’ “New York Narcotic” had the same effect on the fans in Chicago. If you were one of those bodies packed to the rafters at Concord, no, you didn’t imagine the giant inflatable pigeons.
Opening the show in an electric blue spandex bodysuit and matching electric bass guitar, solo electronica artist Blu Detiger put on an impressive performance, covering classic artists of the 2000s and the 1970s. Her cover and remix of Fergie’s 2006 hit “Glamorous” had the crowd screaming the lyrics over the pounding base. Her funky electric bass guitar added to the vintage appeal, complimenting The Knocks’ own set.
Dutch artist Nick Van Hofwegen, known as Young & Sick, continued the funky vibe as the audience began to build in anticipation for the main act. His set was more subdued, but it complimented the explosive energy of later performances.
Later in the show, Young & Sick reappeared to headline The Knocks’ single “Wizard of Bushwick” in a full wizard’s cape. The visual was ridiculous but an instant crowd pleaser.
The Knocks brought an electricity which echoed through the hundreds of dancers shoving toward the front of the crowd. By the time the headliners took the stage at 10:30 p.m., the hall was packed. Audience members also lined the balcony railings, watching from above as the artists came out on stage in matching denim jackets with words including “New York Narcotic” and “I heart NY” printed on the back.
The Knocks created a sound reminiscent of carefree Fridays spent tearing up the living room of a stranger’s home, riding down the staircase banister and drinking unknown liquids from red plastic cups. At least, that’s how these things are portrayed in the movies. But, this wasn’t your typical neighborhood frat party. If you can’t handle your liquor or take the tantalizing barrage of near-blinding strobe lights and smoke fountains, then you best stay at home.
The artists referred to their set as a “house party,” urging the audience to relax, get to know the people, or strangers, next to them and above all, have a good time. It was an audience-centered show. The artists paid close attention to the ebb and flow of energy within the crowd. When the crowd began jumping, The Knocks would coordinate the effort in time with the music, asking everyone to raise their hands and pump their fists at certain intervals.
On stage, Blu Detiger and Katie Lee, were engulfed in thick columns of smoke, appearing as glittery silhouettes among the fog. The Knocks also brought out two horse-size inflatable pigeons which stood like sentinels on the sides of the stage in their matching shades and chain necklaces, staring out at the delighted faces of the crowd.
After the first few songs had the crowd collectively gasping for breath, the band expressed its appreciation for the city and its fans. James “JPatt” Patterson wore a Cubs jersey for part of the show, admitting that Chicago was the band’s favorite tour stop so far. As they are known to do at many of their tour destinations, the artists encouraged the audience to continue the party after the set although a specific location wasn’t disclosed.
The crowd began trickling out around midnight, appearing fully exhausted. Like any house party, the night was wild, and The Knocks “Narcotic” left audiences reeling for days.