If there’s a name for the intersection of a yacht party and going to the club, Baio’s DJ set at the ICA was it.
For only $15, you could feel like a part of something special: string lights draped above bobbing heads, the ocean just beyond as boats drift past, and Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio spinning sick beats on the deck behind the Institute of Contemporary Art.
DJ Evaredy started off the night with tracks that bumped along more like background noise than the score to an art museum dance party. The Boston-based DJ never broke focus from his craft—his gray hoodie drooped over his face as he nodded along, one hand pressing his headphones to his ear, the other hovering over his laptop.
But the crowd’s response was as soft as the sunset behind them: a din of conversation fought the for dominance of the sound levels, and people milled up and down the steps overlooking the harbor, Harpoon IPAs in hand. A casual vibe replaced what DJ Evaredy might have hoped to be an eruption of dancing.
Baio took over the podium without ceremony. The audience was slow to notice, but as he spun a remix of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” (which was admittedly dope), a small crowd gathered in front of the indie-star-turned-DJ. His set consisted of a mix of original songs, like “Sister Of Pearl” from his new release, Man Of The World, and remixed versions of popular tunes like David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.”
Baio excelled at this throughout the night: he took songs one might not otherwise imagine hearing in a dance club setting and added just enough spin to them to make them danceable, while not diluting them to the point of no recognition. And the crowd responded, familiar smiles flickering across faces as they shouted along: “Under the moonlight, this serious moonlight!”
As the sun disappeared below the horizon, the lights illuminating the deck were joined by cycles of soft pink, purple, green, and blue that danced around the feet of the crowd as they did the same. The day had been unseasonably cold for July, somewhere in the 50s, but everyone refused to embrace the autumnal air—clad in summery shorts and dresses, it seemed that in order to keep warm the only option was to dance with reckless abandon. The breeze from the harbor paired with the mood lighting and Baio’s beats combined effortlessly to create a fun atmosphere.
Lending no hints as to when Vampire Weekend will be putting out LP 4, Baio didn’t speak much throughout the night. Looking through the swarm of dancing people, you could see him briefly look up from his station, smile as he scanned the crowd and nod with approval before furrowing his brow to choose the next track. He was visibly amused by how carefree the audience’s movements were: someone attempted a handstand, groups of friends locked arms and spun each other in circles, couples dipped one another and kissed. Baio laughed and turned the volume up. It didn’t feel so much like fall anymore.