The last time Seth Troxler played Boston it was to a room of about 50 people. The venue was Felt, a downtown billiards spot with an upstairs loft suited to such occasions, the cover was $25, and it was a bitterly cold Wednesday in December — the type of evening where you'd be forgiven for taking a rain check. Ever the consummate professional, Troxler arrived sporting a full-length pea coat, laid down two hours of Detroit-indebted psychedelic house, and stuck around to greet stragglers and pose for photos. Relatively standard fare when a world-class DJ opts to pass through our metropolitan enclave.
The stakes will be raised considerably Sunday at the House of Blues. If the sudden spike in venue capacity isn't computing, it's not because Troxler's pocket of peculiar house has suddenly taken off in the last 11 months. Although it may reign supreme overseas, it's still very much drowned out by the garish wake of EDM on our shores. Rather, it's his inclusion on the ambitious eight-date Sónar North American Tour that will have him paired with a lineup of contemporaries, all working under the vague umbrella of electronic music. "It's cool to be part of a music festival that kind of promotes the intelligent side of electronic music, that's not just some overblown rave with no content at the end," says the Michigan-born, London-based Troxler by phone from Amsterdam. "I'm American, so just for me to even think about there being an art-based electronic music festival of that size touring America? Ten years ago I would've laughed in my own face."
Although the Identity Festival may be the closest point of comparison, the considered curatorial effort of Sónar puts it a class above that traveling circus. Bridging off their acclaimed Barcelona festival, the Sónar folks seem poised to try their hand in the States, recruiting meditative techno icon Paul Kalkbrenner, the fancily full-blown Azari & III, and even South African batshit zef-gods Die Antwoord.
Slotting a bill of artists accustomed to letting their vibe unfurl over the course of several hours into a 7-to-midnight time slot may seem a tad convoluted, but Troxler has the solution. "I'm playing at an after-party for basically every city. So one thing that's going to be really cool is, like, boom!, quick presentation, and then there'll be offshoot events where the kids can get really freaked out. The Sónar Tour is really just an entry level in some ways, but it's a great way to build a following." How they intend to work around Boston's puritanical curfew remains to be seen, but we'll be sure to pass along the info as soon as we get word.
SÓNAR ON TOUR WITH SETH TROXLER :: House of Blues, 15 Lansdowne St, Boston :: November 4 @ 6 pm :: All Ages :: $27-$29.50 :: 617.693.2583 or hob.com/boston
Michael C. Walsh can be reached at MWALSH[a]PHX.COM