Free at Noon Flashback: Nightmares on Wax bring living room jams to their midday set

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Nightmares on Wax | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Friday afternoon, the downstairs space at World Cafe Live was transformed from its normal stage setup to what appeared to be a halfway cleared out living room. Where a kitchen table may have been before, a massive drum kit took its place. Pioneer CDJ’s and a mixer occupy every square inch of a coffee table placed in front of a leather couch. It’s on the couch we find George Evelyn perched, captaining the CDJ’s, an additional sequencer on his lap, and a MacBook Pro precariously perched atop an amp. With the hard hitting bass, it’s beyond me how the computer didn’t rattle it’s way off the amp.

Evelyn is the man behind the project Nightmares on Wax, originally a duo founded in 1989 in Leeds, England. Nightmares on Wax blends a plethora of genres, sourcing from both sides of the Atlantic and everything in between. With influences ranging from hip-hop, soul, and funk, to dub and reggae, house via Detroit and techno by way of Berlin, the sound that emerges is a beautifully mixed electronic blend, with nods to each element appearing throughout the midday set.

From the first song of the set, Evelyn and his three touring partners set the mood off right, with a thumping, sequenced low end bassline, aided by the live drummer, and echoing synthlines one might find in a full fledged dub tune. The song, “Tell My Vision,” off 2018 LP Shape The Future, is a downtempo slow burner, developing throughout the course of the track all while being grounded by the rib cage-rattling bass.

N.O.W. closed the set with a pair of massive tracks, both appearing off latest record. First was the 140-bpm banger “Citizen Kane.” With a swaggering bassline thumping from the start, and looping, live sampled vocals swirling about the room, a manic live drum fill enters the mix near the end of the song to send the track into a frenzy. Then, all of a sudden, the track strips everything back save for the vocals and calmly closes. Certainly a staple of the live set for Nightmares on Wax, they lead into their final track coming out of a seemingly can’t-be-topped track.

Starting off the closing track locked in an extended intro drum groove, Evelyn adds samples into the mix, all building up to the vocal introduction, chanting “You, me, he, she, we, them, all gotta smile.” The feel good track, aptly titled “Gotta Smile” is the group’s go-to closer as of late, and for good reasons. The track’s trance-inducing groove and feel good message are infectiously positive, and without a doubt a high note to end on.

If you missed their set, make your way over to Underground Arts tonight, where the group will be performing with an opening set provided by local act attic tapes. Tickets and info available here. Check out the full setlist and picture gallery below.

Setlist:
Tell My Vision
Tomorrow
Flip Ya Lid
Deep Shadows
Me & You
Citizen Kane
Gotta Smile

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