Party Recap: Nero at Webster Hall
It was already well past midnight at Webster Hall Friday night, but the show was not on yet. Nero had hit a snag – a TV was out. The British DJ duo perform from atop a 10-foot platform made of speakers and television sets, all colored black with a color-changing logo in the center. One of the TVs was clearly not working, and stagehands worked diligently to fix it while a massive crowd of revelers, already whipped into frenzy by several hours of partying, started chanting “Nero! Nero!” A reveler next to me in the VIP balcony remarked that it sounded like the fans were screaming for their favorite baseball player. But when I turned around and spied Daniel Stephens, one half of Nero, still in the VIP section, I realized making the crowd wait for the show, is part of the show.
Stephens had told me earlier that day in an interview to drop in Elektro’s first issue, out February 2012 to prepare myself, “for a live show that was wholly different from how Nero usually performs.” Stephens and fellow DJ Joe Ray do not perform together often. For the live show, however, the two told me they would be playing from some kind of speaker tower replete with lights and a projection screen, backed by live vocals from frequent collaborator Alana Watson. I had trouble imagining the setup, but once I made it to the second floor of Webster Hall and saw the tower in all its glory, I got the picture. It looks like a dubstep Deathstar, and when the two finally emerged from the top of the speaker monstrosity at 1:40am Saturday morning, it was clearly worth the wait.
The show kicked off with a loud bass boom, repeated in hypnotic rhythm, slowly gaining speed until culminating in an absolute bass explosion. The crowd began jumping in unison, egged on by the two DJs standing side by side in wraparound black shades, a kind of punk rock Daft Punk look. The building shook to its foundation.
Watson sang live from various platforms onstage, sometimes accompanied by a gigantic projection of her own face singing behind her, and even appeared atop the speaker tower to bounce around next to Stephens and Ray. The crowd roiled like a boiling pot of water, lit by glow sticks, camera phones and a light show that sent many partygoers into a visual tizzy. The crowd reached full on mania mode once Nero launched into their smash hit, “Innocence,” and it became clear why the TV screens were necessary in the first place. The four-word chorus flashed in sync with the song, and 2,000 partiers screamed at the same time: “YOU’LL NEVER… BE MINE!”
Photographs by Maverick Inman