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Rob Garza (Thievery Corporation) on Nantucket

 Tonight, July 11, 2016, Rob Garza returns to Nantucket to play on top of the Nantucket Whaling Museum.  Fingers crossed for a beautiful sunset.  Worst case scenario, we dance to Rob’s beats under the giant whale skeleton that hangs inside the museum. 

Either way, it’s a Win, Win Situation…Thank you to Pete Ahern of the AudioArchitechs for bringing Rob bACK!

…Remembering bACK to August 17th, 2013:

by Sara Boyce

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Anyone driving by Pazzo (now closed and the current location of Atlas Restaurant) August 17th might have seen the glow emanating from Pazzo.  Inside, it felt like we were held in a bubble of energy created by the AudioArchitechs and Pazzo’s owner, Marco Coelho.  On the 17thRob Garza, of Thievery Corporation stepped in and filled it completely with energetic pulse of electronic dance music.


I’ll admit it: I didn’t know what to expect.

Oh, I knew the basics:

Marco Coelho, owner of Lola 41 and Pazzo  has engaged Billy Desmond and Pete Ahern of the AudioArchitechs to host a House Music Dance Party every Saturday night at Pazzo, featuring a lineup of local and off island DJ’s.  Marco sent Billy & Pete to the Miami Music Conference this past winter in search of headline talent for the 2013 Summer Season.  They found Rob Garza, one half of the DJ Producing duo known as Thievery Corporation, who often play with a band of 15 vocalists and musicians.  Having just released the “Remixes” CD, Rob agreed to end his tour on Nantucket.  Marco, Pete, & Billy promised a fabulous evening and worked for months to create an intimate party.

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Marco Coelho, Pazzo

100 tickets were sold, Pazzo was closed to the public, and there were copious amounts of Pazzo’s Mediterranean fare, drinks, and music from 8 – 1.  At $200, the event was expensive, but it offered a lot, and it sure beat going to Boston to catch a show that starts at 11 pm, without food, drink, and a room full of friends.  I arrived, eager to see who else had committed to the event, knowing there would be a mix of familiar and new faces and friends.


Billy Desmond

The evening had been planned (and rehearsed) perfectly.  Billy and Pete played music to warm up the crowd.  With each phase of the evening, the energy level was raised.  While appetizers were passed and food poured out of the kitchen, Billy warmed up the crowd with a set of music designed the prime the pump.  As he said, “as the first of three DJ’s in a five-hour evening, I chose a Nu Disco set at 110 Beats Per Minute (BPM), which is good for eating, drinking and socializing, to get everyone in the mood.”  (Nu Disco refers to the genre of recently remixed versions of generally synthesizer-heavy disco of the 70’s and 80’s.)  Even though we were all expecting a night of music, it takes a controlled DJ to slowly grab the crowd’s attention and draw their interest away from greeting, eating and drinking towards the music.  Billy not only did this but seamlessly transitioned to Pete, who was positioned to increase the intensity and tease people to the dance floor.  Once we were there, Pete held us there for his whole set.

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Pete Ahern & Billy Desmond of AudioArchitechs

Pete deliberated about how to approach the evening as the DJ playing right before Garza….  “Do I take a back seat to him, an internationally known DJ who I really respect and let him shine, or do I give it all I have and work to match his talents?”  Pete chose the latter option and fired with both guns, bringing the BPM up to 118 – 124.  Pete explained, “When I finished, I knew I did a good job.  Rob hugged me and said I did a good job.  He’s like a hero to me, and then I got to play with him.  I just went out there and showed them what was up.  I played like it was my party – because it was.”

Billy Voss, a musician, DJ, and the Owner of Billy Voss Productions, works with AudioArchitechs as the Production and Lighting Coordinator.

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Billy Voss & Jesse Gauvin

“We all put so much planning into it.  Pete and I talked about how to approach the set.  I thought he should go as big as he could from the first moment instead of making Rob do all the work to warm up the crowd.  In the end, Pete was killing the set; the energy was so great.  As an artist, sometimes you play in small rooms.  That size crowd is the most fun.  But it also makes you a little anxious.  It gets personal in an intimate crowd.  There is no separation between the Dancers and the DJ in that size room.  You can hide in a DJ booth in a facility that houses thousands of people.  Rob Garza is a guy who usually come in, plays a big crowd in a big venue, and leaves.  The week prior, he played for a crowd of tens of thousands in Croatia.  It was really great that he came a night early and we got to hang out and have dinner and get to know each other.  It seemed to me that Rob said to himself, “now that I know them, I have to kick some ass.”


Luckily, all the planning worked:  Billy Desmond generously agreed to welcome and warm up the crowd.  Pete gave it everything he had and brought the focus to the dance floor so when Rob Garza was brought on stage, he was handed him a steaming hot crowd.  Candice Kelly said, “I loved seeing this weathered guy, Rob Garza, who has been playing all around the world, be a little bit reticent as he stepped onto the stage after Pete.”  Garza very quickly met the Nantucket crowd at the same energy level and raised it still higher.  Garza kept the BPM consistent with Pete’s set at 122-124 BPM.  Billy explained, “once you go over 125 BPM, you start to lose the rhythm of the song, unless you’re playing Techno or Trance Music.”


Sandy Walsh, Candice Kelly

It was a night where everyone was in sync.  Every element of the night worked.  The food was delicious and plentiful, the trial runs for the sound and lighting ensured everything was balanced, and all the thought put into the set lists paid off.   As Billy Voss said, “if you’re going to work out the bugs, don’t do it on the night of the event.”  The smiles weren’t just the normal smiles I see on the dance floor; they were full-body smiles.  Every time I caught someone’s eyes, his or her eyes widened in acknowledgement of the evening.  No one needed to say anything; they just shook their heads in amazement and kept dancing.  Bonnie Roseman shared, “I felt like I was transported to Ibiza.  It was like being at a smaller version of Pacha (DJ Magazine voted Pacha the third best nightclub in the world in 2012) or Space (The International Dance Music Awards voted Space “Best Global Club” award in 2005, 2006, and 2012).  I could have danced until dawn.  I felt like I was 39 and loved every minute of it.”

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Bonnie Roseman

The evening was heightened by Billy Voss’s calibrated sound and lighting and the paparazzi.  No joke.  There were constantly moving cameras, videographers, and tripods everywhere.  Dan Driscoll, of September Productions is a co-founder of Nantucket Shorts Festival, a new Short Film Festival that launches this Nantucket Arts Festival, October 4 – 13, 2013.  Dan is making a documentary of the AudioArchitechs, which will debut at Nantucket Shorts.  To capture footage of the evening, he brought two additional videographers, Kristen Kellogg and Tom McGlinn.  Gene Mahon was there through the night with his still camera (a selection of photos ran in the September 4th edition of Mahon About Town).

A long time fan of Thievery Corporation, Dan was excited to film Garza.  “As a fan of Thievery, particularly early Thievery albums, one of my big concerns was what would Garza be like as a DJ?  I think he’s a great remixer.  He’s a great producer.  But can he DJ?  That question was answered in about five minutes.”  Right out of the gate, Garza hit the crowd with a remixed song from The Smiths, which had the effect of putting a match to a fuse.  As Dan said, “and the energy just ramped up from there.”

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Rob Garza on the Decks…

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The DJ’s and the crowd held a very clear dialogue that night.  They spoke; we on the dance floor responded.  On a normal Saturday night, Pazzo is open to the public with no cover charge.  People fold in and out as their schedule allows, stopping in for a drink, dancing, and music at some point in the evening.  The energy of a contained event is different as everyone arrives at the same time with a shared intention.  That night, we arrived at similar times to spend the evening together and celebrate Rob Garza.  As Candice said, “we were all doing our job and pulling our weight.”

Jesse Gauvin Voss summed it up, “not only did we get to experience a talent like Rob Garza in an intimate setting but we also have to hand it to Pete and Billy of the AudioArchitechs for pulling together such an amazing night.  It was epic in all forms.”

I agree.

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Sara Boyce

*“Umami” is something the Japanese recognize as the 5th flavor, in addition to sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.  A nuanced word, one could define it as the “je ne sais quoi” that deepens flavor, the experience, and imparts satisfaction and sensory delight.  To me, it’s “that which makes Nantucket special”.

Mahon About Town’s Food, Wine, and Drink Editor, Sara Boyce has been working in the luxury market since she visited Nantucket for a “three-week” visit after 9/11.  As an Art Dealer turned “Lady in Chief” at Grey Lady Wines, she indulges her passions of bringing people together over food, wine, beauty, and travel.  Grey Lady Wines specializes in boutique wine recommendations and Private Collections, but Sara feels the best glass of wine is always that shared with friends, ideally before dancing.

These photographs and more are on the Mahon About Town site.  Photos taken by Gene Mahon are watermarked.  This article originally appeared in the September 6, 2013 edition of Mahon About Town.  


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