Originally published in Third Coast Review
The love for classic film that Polo & Pan shares shone Thursday at Lincoln Hall, as the DJ duo introduced itself by blending the musical theme of 21st Century Fox into its original track, “Zoom Zoom.”
That’s what gets the party started at 10:45 for a sold out room of responsible adults on a “school night.” Polo & Pan, whose names are actually Paul Armand-Delille and Alexandre Grynszpan, leads its audience to dismiss their worries of the day, and the time they need to get up for that meeting at eight AM.
The moment the duo sets foot on stage, arms go flailing in the air, and hips rattle. Polo & Pan became musical partners after having met six years ago as resident performers for Le Baron nightclub in Paris. Like many DJs in performance, not every spin was recognizable, but that didn’t take away from the enjoyment one bit.
There isn’t a significant pool of Americans who live a life of late, careless nights, eating dinner at 10 and valuing enough time out with friends or with music, to rise again hours later for 9-5 jobs. Polo & Pan brought to Chicago’s Lincoln Hall that missing piece of carelessness that we so rarely enjoy here, that makes us blissfully lost at European night clubs.
In fact, Polo & Pan’s late night set ended with an excellent remix of Roger Miller’s “Whistle-Stop,” as heard in the “Robin Hood” movie. It’s like Grynszpan and Armand-Delille just want their audience to understand that listening to a great song is like a good dream on repeat. You can listen to the song as many times as you like, and you can relive your childhood via classic Disney films.
Polo & Pan didn’t speak much with the audience; their dancing and music were the main form of communication, and the unifying element Thursday night. The DJs told me they hope to one day write the score for an animated film based out of a Los Angeles studio. Cartoons and characters play a heavy role in Grynszpan and Armand-Delille’s music.
The whimsical “Canopée” is a song about relaxing in trees of a wild jungle, and listening to the birds sing their melodies. The preface to the song’s lyrics even tell its listener that what he or she is about to hear is unlikely – a fantasy. Alexandre uses the synthesizer keyboard in this song to fabricate the sound of the xylophone, a sound that reminds you of the carnival – a fantastical, irrelevant playground.
“Polo played the guitar, some keys and collected the tropical percussions. Alex played the cello, the keys and Djembe,” they said of their start in music. Guitar is one of the key instruments in “Canopée,” but they called this song a melting pot of percussive instruments. Unlike the French electro-swing group Caravan Palace, Polo & Pan decides to use its laptop, a distortion mic, a keyboard and more machinery to take you on this night ride.
One of the most delightful takeaways from this night was the song, “Arc-en-ciel,” which means “Rainbow.” The duo introduced the ear worm Thursday night as part of its upcoming project. If I could award Oscars to artists following their performances, Polo & Pan would be the recipients of one.