For Gesaffelstein's first appearance in Portland since 2011, promoters (possibly facetiously) encouraged attendees to wear all black—perhaps riffing on the distinctly dark wave of hard techno likely to be played by the French producer/DJ. Arriving early to the show, it was endearing to see the crowd had largely complied with the request, and when the dark prince began spinning, he delivered on his end of the deal as well.
Immersed in the immaculate sound of new inner SE venue the Evergreen, Gesaffelstein remained impressively stoic throughout his set—not once raising his arms above his head to clap to the rhythm of the song, never discernibly nodding or bobbing his head, withholding even a hint of a smile. Instead his hands whisked delicately over the DJ controls with understated elegance and finesse. Those familiar with his DJ sets over the years wouldn't have caught many surprises or particularly deep cuts, but on full demonstration was Mike Levy's disciplined control of the dance floor's energy, pacing, and intensity, clutching the crowd in a relentless trance of punishing rhythms.
Underneath a precisely unkempt bouffant of hair, behind rounded sunglasses and wearing a long trench coat, Gesaffelstein reminded me of a younger, handsomer version of Peter Sellers' titular character in Dr. Strangelove. It added a comical element to what was otherwise a decidedly serious affair. When the music wound down with some slower rap beats, Gesaffelstein treated himself to a cigarette, wound up his headphones, and quickly walked off stage and out into the night. Shortly thereafter the house lights went up, putting the blackness of the attendees' attire and the largeness of their pupils into sharp focus. A successful night of dancing in darkness achieved.