No Justice, No Peace

October 30th, 2009

Justice – Webster Hall – October 29, 2009

(Photo: Jared Levy)

(Photo: Jared Levy)

I watched the trailer for Justice’s documentary, A Cross the Universe, before last night’s show at Webster Hall. Wedged between scenes of the French DJ duo’s hedonistic road trip are equally wild images of their high-energy performances. Scantily clad fans gyrate and bellow. Lights flash in unison with electronic house beats. An illuminated cross looms over an ironically sacrilegious scene. The 90-second teaser gave a glimpse of the intensely debaucherous concert to come.

You could feel the music walking through the venue. The distortion-saturated melodies and bass-heavy rhythms compelled dance rather than inspired it. Making my way through the throngs, the first song I recognized was “DVNO,” from Justice’s debut album, . Their performance featured a deft mix of familiar hits and pulsating electronic numbers. For this show, their trademark cross was digital rather than physical, which detracted little from Justice’s stage presence. The two DJs raged along with their selections, chain-smoking cigarettes and occasionally flashing the gesture of a cross. They guided the music with an assured cool though they were just as capable of erratically raving with the crowd.

In some ways, it’s useless to recount the songs I deciphered. Of course I recognized when the duo played their Grammy-nominated single, “D.A.N.C.E.,” and songs by the Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk. But the show was a holistic experience rather than a collection of songs—a continuous thought transitioned sometimes subtly and sometimes blatantly. As the crowd roared at 3 a.m. with a passion equal to earlier in the night, Justice closed with a combination of “We Are Your Friends,” their remix of Simian’s “Never Be Alone,” and War’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” I was drenched in sweat with my ears ringing as I left just a few hours before sunrise, feeling drained and energized. Few DJs are capable of creating a show with passion and force equal to Justice. —Jared Levy