Teengirl Fantasy Hits Home, Hard

Ross Chait, Staff Writer

Last Thursday, the former Oberlin in-house heroes known as Teengirl Fantasy returned to their alma mater for a performance at the ’Sco, headlining what proved to be a relatively raucous weeknight of house-inspired dance music.

“As a guy who performs with turntables, it’s always refreshing to see talented producers play killer live sets,” explained College junior Will DiMaggio, who was the first of three acts to play that night. “Neither of the [visiting] acts relied too heavily on pre-structured material, which is impressive and, in all honesty, unusual of live electronic [dance] performances these days.”

DiMaggio warmed up the early birds with a pre-banger set of soul-inspired party tracks, performing under the newly buzzing JawJam moniker. His crafted brand of downbeat-centric grooving was administered with impressive composure behind a set up of dual turntables, laptop and mixer chain. With expertly chosen vocal belts, fluid jazz piano samples and his hypnotically tailored hip-hop hooks, JawJam aptly began prepping the handful of friendly loyalists for the oncoming neck sore. DiMaggio performed directly in front of the stage, an unusual choice for the ’Sco, allowing his handful of friends and followers to peer over his laptop as they bobbed. Around 11 p.m., as JawJam’s set came to an end with a horn-heavy build, the happily hostile Oberlin students started filing in, rightfully expecting to get their weekend dance fix early.

Following a 12-minute interim of like-minded beat music, visiting Chicago-based spinner svengalisghost took to the stage. Attributing much of his stylistic preference to the influence of the late Ron Hardy, svengalisghost performed a stylish set of heavy fours-on-the-floor, with looming synth melodies that moved gradually into more abrasive, up-tempo house hits. With his elaborate setup of samplers and a microphone, this old school connoisseur made no secret that his well-seasoned act was sure to incite thrills among the now throbbing room nearly packed with eager Obies (it’s no surprise, then, that he’s now overseas playing shows in Europe). In his casual skater garb, the nimble-fingered knob twister was quite impressive in his ability to keep the whole room fixated, while occupying only a corner of the ’Sco stage under a frantic light display.

Despite almost spilling a beer all over the machines, svengalisghost didn’t let his concentration waver once during the roughly 45-minute set, and neither did the TIMARA majors gawking in the front row. The fond impressions were mutual, as the artist expressed later in the night how impressed he was by the number of devoted Oberlin students who came out on a Thursday to check out a visiting act.

Just before midnight, the swollen anticipation of the crowd met its prize as Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi, both OC ’11, manned their stage-wide arrangement of screens, boxes and keys to remind upperclassmen and exclaim to the virgin freshman and sophomores that Teengirl Fantasy is a force to be reckoned with. Opening nods to ’80s cyber-vibes set a dreamy precedent for what proved to be a roaring venture in variations between lofty, synthetic atmospheres preceded by sparse bass. Weiss was the more performative character of the two, writhing with hypnotic ecstasy at every drop. Friendly pianos and vocal samples skirted the surfaces of the mass, though the density of chordal keyboard work maintained the spotlight for the majority of the set.

Teengirl lacked the stylized wit of svengalisghost but certainly proved apt at keeping the tireless crowd amped with its systematized travels through dense layers and limited builds. For the encore, Weiss flicked on a piercing white bulb, further exaggerating the discrepancy between his palpitations and Takahashi’s almost jaded nodding. Sonics aside, Teengirl’s look was clearly well fashioned. Hard as it was to tell how thrilled the performers were to be back on a familiar stage, Oberlin certainly expressed thumping gratitude in welcoming Teengirl back to its alma mater.