Review: Robbie Rivera with Manufactured Superstars at Pacha NYC 1/18/13 by Marisa Bianco

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When you arrive to Pacha NYC, what’s the first thing you do? Like me, you probably look around and see who’s there and people-watch a little bit, right? Standing above the dance floor in VIP, I looked down and saw the usual Pacha NYC crowd with rave gloves circling, and illuminating, happy faces. Both boys and girls alike, freestyle dancing, harmonized with the beat, in circles of people. Inflatable spacemen were also seen bobbing up and down…wait, what? Looks like the Manufactured Superstars were handing out some souvenirs!

Conspicuous in the booth due to their signature look of bright orange spacesuits, Brad Roulier and Shawn Sabo were already busy banging out their hits like “Calling All the Lovers” featuring Luciana, remixes of songs like Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” and crowd favorites such as “I Could Be the One” by Avicii and Nicky Romero. They threw in recognizable snippets of unexpected songs “Thriller” and Burns’ “Lies.” Among songs “Spectrum” by Zedd, “Jackal Mackson” by John Dahlback, and “Blood Rush” by Swanky Tunes, the highlight was when they played “Spaceman.” I thought that no version could top the time that Hardwell himself entered the booth at Pacha with his instrumental fanfare of “Spaceman,” but Manufactured Superstars gave him a run for his money when they played this song. Starting it off slowly and then quickly bringing the tempo up, they dropped, in slow motion, the sickest dubstep version possible. One of the things I noticed was the use of tempo in their whole set; slowing down parts of songs to half time, drawing them out, then switching it up and playing it double time. It created a new interest in popular songs and kept the crowd alive. Well, that and their overzealous fingers on the air horn!

A few minutes after 2am Manufactured Superstars ended their set with a mashup of Daft Punk’s “One More Time” and Dubfire’s “Roadkill,” and announced Robbie Rivera’s entrance. He opened with “Make Me Feel Good.” For the first 45-minutes of his set, he went between electro and flamenco. It was completely refreshing to hear two different genres mixed so deftly and seamlessly together. His passion for his heritage was obvious in his music as he played selections like “Flamenco” by Harry Romero and Erick Morillo & Alex Kenji. In case there were some people in the crowd who didn’t know how to move their hips but could fist pump, Rivera kept a steady beat and threw in some bass drops. For example, he could play back-to-back songs like “From the Speaker” by Phunk Investigation and “Shingaling,” a mambo-inspired tune from Jean Claude Ades and Vincent Thomas.

I also couldn’t help but notice the absence of a laptop. Growing up in Puerto Rico, young Robbie was inspired by Italo disco and bought turntables to teach himself DJing techniques and also attended The Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale to study music. Talented and learned, he obviously didn’t need any computers for his set to be flawless. His transitions were smooth and throughout his whole set ran a constant Latin vibe. While he played songs like “Perfect Storm” by Benny Benassi and “Seven Days and One Week” by BBE, the emphasis was on songs like “I Love Batucada,” full of intense percussion, with congo riffs and synthesized drums.

Rivera’s energy when playing his song “Escape” around 3am kept me distracted from a few annoying girls who were more interested in spilling their drinks than appreciating the music. With the extreme cold outside, I wanted to take in all the Miami heat Rivera could give me. While playing “Meisei,” I was kindly allowed to go into the booth and take some pictures, where Rivera turned around and gave me a sunny smile. He melted my NYC winter heart!

He went on to play “Turn It Around” and tell the club that NY is loved for our “beautiful energy.” Singing along, we all felt that we were going to live forever when he dropped his remix of “Forever Young.” Deniz Koyu’s “Bong” came up, mixed with “We Will Rock You.” Rivera himself was dancing and having a great time, and continued on with a remix of “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars and Kanye’s “Stronger.”

Overall, I felt particularly impressed by Rivera’s break away from typical house to share what motivates and inspires him from la cultura latina while still keeping the electronic sounds that Pacha-goers love to hear. He made the entire set his own, whether he played songs that belonged to him or not. The only thing that was missing from the night were some palm trees – but I guess I’ll have to actually go to Miami for those.

Marisa Bianco for EDMNYC

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