Despite recently celebrating its seventh year and establishing itself as an important showcase of Brooklyn’s unique nightlife, the Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival appropriately retained the gritty DIY attitude that the borough has become synonymous with. This year’s iteration, which took place on Nov. 7 and 8, was proof that electronic music culture in Brooklyn is as alive as ever.
Co-created by Katie Longmyer and Jen Lyon as a celebration of Brooklyn’s role in the global dance scene, the festival attracts both startup acts just getting their breaks, such as Golf Clap and Manik, and veterans of the underground, such as Booka Shade and Damian Lazarus.
The festival was held in bars and clubs all over Williamsburg, including Verboten and Output, two of the area’s most renowned venues for underground music. The artists at Verboten on Saturday proved to be the best of the festival, and Francesca Lombardo with her makeshift string orchestra was a particular standout. It is not every day that one sees ravers pounding their fists to the beat of an upright bass or a string section onstage during a deep house set.
While there were more commercial EDM and house artists present at the festival, the dominating scene was undoubtedly underground. This was not Electric Daisy Carnival — there were no flower crowns or people too busy Instagramming to actually enjoy the music. Instead, crowds were more like those of a typical night club. These were partygoers who actually listened to deep house, and who appreciated the music as much as they loved going wild. Brooklyn clubgoers reveled in the magic of deep house and how one can lose track of time having fun on the dance floor.
The organized chaos and overall mesh may have been disconcerting for some, but this festival highlighted the intelligence of Brooklyn’s underground scene. These DJs entered the scene on their own, and their fans were no different. In the center of these clubs, everything flowed so organically that one would not have thought it was the small-scale festival that it really was. It is a testament to the energy of the location that it felt so big, even in smaller venues like Kinfolk.
BEMF came about after Brooklyn carved out its path as the grittier, more intelligent alternative to the clubs in Manhattan. Self-made, unique and irrevocably itself, the festival cements this legacy as it promulgates and celebrates the diverse and unapologetic vibe of its night life.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Nov. 11 print edition. Email E.R. Pulgar at [email protected]