Todd Terje Takes Terminal 5 on a Trip to SpaceJuly 22nd, 2015
Todd Terje & the Olsens – Terminal 5 – July 21, 2015
Is the U.S. becoming more Scandinavian? New York City is ever so slowly becoming more bike friendly, there’s a self-avowed socialist climbing his way up the 2016 presidential polls, and American electronic-music fans can’t get enough of the Norwegian DJ wunderkind Todd Terje. Lazy journalism 101 says these three barely related things mean we have an undeniable trend, one worthy of its own online thought piece. One thing is for sure, though, we Americans aren’t yet Scandinavian enough to know what to do with the j in Terje’s last name. Ter-jee? Ter-hey? Ter-yee? I heard every possible variation while working my way into Terminal 5 last night.
“Prepare to be blasted into space in a lounge chair,” my friend, who had seen Terje a few days prior at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival, told me. It was an apt warning, although really, when is anyone not prepared for such a thing? Terje’s set began slowly, with him onstage by himself slowly tinkering his way into the performance, before being joined by his backing band, the Olsens. By the second half of “Leisure Suit Preben” all three of the Olsens were on some sort of percussion instrument. Strong rhythm works well in the cavernous Terminal 5. Done well, it beats the entire venue, all three of its floors, into perfect unison. The true liftoff into space arrived with “Strandbar,” its relentless rhythmic assault stretched out into infinity and beyond. Terje was flanked on his right with one hell of a multi-instrumentalist, who at one time or another played a saxophone, xylophone and guitar, switching among them, sometimes all within the same song.
Terje was at his most animated when throwing out the vocal yips of “Svensk Sås” into his vocoder, a funny sight for an otherwise unassuming fellow. The set slowly descended back to earth for “Oh Joy,” with a gradual transition into “Inspector Norse.” It was so gradual that it took the audience a bit to notice we were heading right for Terje’s most well known song, finally becoming apparent when a dozen dancers, draped in tattered cloth and haphazardly placed Christmas lights, walked onstage to dance along. This has been Terje’s go-to for this number live, and it makes for a beautiful sight. There’s a certain way people move their bodies along to “Inspector Norse,” when they get way too into it and shed all inhibitions. It’s not technical enough that I’d really call it dancing, but seeing lots of people do it, in costume onstage and in unison is brilliantly funny. It’s cheeky in the same way Terje’s music is at its finest moments—and one hell of a way to end a set.
—Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks