After All This Waiting, Slander Doesn't Disappoint

All Photographs by Shawn Russell Johnson

I have been haunted since my experience at Moonrise Festival 2015 by the fact that I didn't see Slander live. Had I known then what I know now, I would never have slept on such an amazing performance. For the past eight months the duo from Los Angeles have eluded me; leaving me especially disparaged when I missed them in Atlantic City last October. But this past Friday, I stopped living vicariously through SoundCloud live sets, and witnessed the hype in person at Webster Hall in New York City.

I've been fan enough of their frequent collaborator and partner in crime NGHTMRE to have experienced some of their mixes live, but seeing the two of them in person is as close to a religious experience as a trap fan can have. Made up of Derek Anderson and Scott Land, Slander have been gaining popularity across the electronic world for their unique blend of heavy-hitting bass and angelic synths that have coined themselves the genre "Heaven Trap."


The adventure began with Webster Hall house DJ Alex English's birthday. Accompanied onstage by fellow houser Dali, the night was ushered in by an energetic mix of future house and trap to warm up the crowd. By the time the Grand Ballroom filled up with ravenous fans ready for a night full of bass music, opener WUKI was taking the stage.

Traversing through a journey of electronic genres, WUKI blew me away with an impressive opening set. Going every which way imaginable, he blew through a set spanning his EDM repertoire, much to the crowd's enjoyment. He threw in a couple old classics while introducing us to his filthy and unique brand of trap as the self-appointed "undisputed king of booty music." And the Mad Decent representative didn't disappoint. There's no doubt that the twerk was definitely the favored dance of his set.


Once WUKI had completed his set, it was time to begin the epicness that would be Slander's set; and what better way to kick off said epicness than with Carl Orff's "O Fortuna?" Crouched behind the DJ table, the belting operatic classic blared through Webster's speaker system. As the song reached its climax, the duo jumped up as Derek aggressively inquired "what the f*ck's up, New York," to which a roaring response from the crowd cued their introduction to end as they followed up "O Fortuna" with Linkin Park's "In The End" (which was infinitely more entertaining than you might assume).


The next hour and a half was riddled with favorites, and an intertwining mix of bass-heavy collaborations with NGHTMRE including "YOU," and my personal favorite (as mentioned in my recent NGHTMRE article) "GUD VIBRATIONS" off the collective Nuclear Bonds album. Another track mixed in during the set was Slander's remix of Alison Wonderland's hit "U Don't Know," which perfectly exemplifies the "heaven trap" stylings that Slander has come to be known for. The bass from "U Don't Know" shook the entire building while the crowd sang along with the hook, adding a naturally unsettling reverb to the already resonant track.


Slander owned the stage, displaying a level of energy that truly embodied the confidence in their recent success. Despite the setting of Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom (that only boasts a capacity of 1,500), the atmosphere inside rivaled that of the festival stages that have garnered the duo tens of thousands of fans. It was within the final songs of the set that Slander brought in the big guns, a track that takes a mild-mannered hit by Adele, and flips it, twists it, and turns it into a masterpiece of melodic synths and unrivaled rhythms. That remix, of course, is the popular "Hello." I won't even lie, despite my disdain for the original, this is one that I couldn't help but belt along with everyone else in the Ballroom.


It's been a long time coming, but I'm happy to say that I've gotten to see Slander, and at one of my favorite venues nonetheless. I'm pretty confident in saying that I'll be happy to catch these overnight sensations whenever I get the chance to see them again, hopefully before I attend this summer's Electric Forest Festival in Rothbury, Michigan with Slander on the lineup. Whoever comes into Webster Hall for this week's Girls + Boys event definitely has some big shoes to fill.