Pogo + Telepath / Highline Ballroom (New York, NY) / 03.05.11
Published: March 8, 2011
By: Kerry McNeil
“I love Ariel!” screamed an excited male fan in a gruff voice as the Little Mermaid swam around to the beat of Pogo’s mix of the childhood favorite.
At the Highline Ballroom on March 5th, Pogo (aka Western Australia native Nick Bertke) DJ’d a set of some of his outrageously popular YouTube videos, along with videos not so prevalent on the web, and even some brand new material. Taking bits and pieces of beloved Disney classics, modern favorites, as well as live footage, Pogo creates unique electronic tracks designed to sync up with his rejiggered videos.
Before Pogo took the stage, Telepath opened the show with a quick, half-hour set and warmed up the crowd with a blend of tropical beats, sitar-infused melodies, and samples from classic rock superstars. Telepath’s grooves spiced with Indian flavors got the crowd moving—slowly at first, but steadily loosening with each subsequent track.
Michael Christie pulled out a number of songs from his latest release, Crush (2011). Tracks like “Dust,” with blazing sitar licks running up against heavy beats and frantic Indian vocals, contrasted nicely with older, slower tracks like “Global Rights,” from his 2008 release Contact. One song built a short piano intro into an electro-storm—complete with a sample from The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life.”
Telepath finished his set with an amped-up blend of electro beats seamlessly integrated with a sample from The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” demonstrating Christie’s strength of diversity. After humbly thanking the crowd, Telepath announced Pogo would be up next and scooted off the stage. His table was taken down and a projection screen with Pogo’s bunny rabbit logo was front and center.
Pogo came out, raised his hands as he crossed the stage to shouts and screams from the growing crowd, and immediately set to work on pumping out his signature chopped up samples and dance-heavy beats. Standing to the side of his projection screen, Pogo worked intently, constantly moving to the beat and fiddling with his gear to make sure the sounds were accurately corresponding with the videos.
Beginning with a remix of The Wizard of Oz, Pogo managed to capture the novelty and playfulness of the 1939 classic, perfectly syncing the beat and melody (created with samples straight from the movie) to scenes of Munchkins dancing and the Tin Man busting a move.
To the crowd’s utter delight, Pogo’s set flowed right into “Bangarang,”—a mix using sounds from 90s favorite Hook. Using samples from glass breaking to children’s voices and swordfights, Pogo captured the magic of the movie with an irresistibly catchy and wistful beat.
Other crowd favorites included “Swashbuckle,” a remix of Pirates of the Caribbean; “Murmurs of Middle Earth,” sampling The Lord of the Rings; “Alohomora,” with the chopped up voices of the cast of Harry Potter; and “Skynet Symphonic,” a mix of sounds from Terminator 2.
Pogo flowed seamlessly from one song to the next, never stopping for a break from his roughly hour-long set, also pumping out some of his most popular tracks on YouTube like “Alice,” and “Wishery,”—remixes of Alice in Wonderland and Snow White, respectively.
The crowd was singing along to many of the sometimes incoherent, chopped up ‘lyrics’ of Pogo’s songs, enhancing the entire experience. As he was working intently, even Pogo was mouthing the words on tracks like “Alice,”—creating a dance-worthy atmosphere of shared nostalgia.
“Upular,” combined a visually stunning video with an intricately crafted mix of samples from Pixar’s Up. Creating a beat from the tapping of Carl Fredrickson’s fist on his stair chair lift and adding light, happy vocals from Russell, Pogo inspired a collective “That doesn’t even rhyme—Yeah it does!” from the crowd at the precise time in the video (1:28).
Pogo is able to create his music with any medium—whether it be a Disney movie, TV show, or real-life footage of people on the street. “Gardyn,” uses footage of Bertke’s mother working in her garden, creating a beat from digging trowels, shovels tapping on stones, knocking on doors, hands brushing through plants, and his mother’s voice—completely bringing the garden to life.
Other crowd-pleasing remixes included a Star Wars redux; a mash-up of Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, and Peter Pan; a mix from the British comedy series The Mighty Boosh; and “Expialidocious,” Pogo’s take on Mary Poppins—full of dancing chimney sweepers, foot-tapping penguins, and the talent of Julie Andrews set to a melody-driven electronic beat that will get stuck in your head for days.
Closing out his set with “Toyz Noize,” a mash up of the Toy Story series, Pogo allowed the audience to relive a little bit of their childhood through fiercely nostalgic beats, chopped up samples, and the obviously tediously-crafted videos of some of our favorite characters.