Words by: Justin Gillett | Images by: Eric Lawson
Daedelus/Nosaj Thing/Jogger :: 02.06.10 :: Mighty :: San Francisco, CA
It's hard for electronic artists to make their stage show visually engaging. With the majority of producers composing beats on computer programs nowadays, it's generally impossible for these musicians to create a show that combines elements of live instrumentation, improvisation and stage theatrics. More often than not, shows are just a guy behind a laptop triggering different songs, and after seeing one of these performances (if you can call them that) it can turn many people off to seeing electronic music performed in a live setting.
Fortunately, certain musicians have taken it upon themselves to pioneer a new form of live electro that relies heavily on the musician's performance ability and their skill at holding a crowd's visual attention. At the recent Daedelus, Nosaj Thing and Jogger show in San Francisco it was clear that these acts were intent on doing something with their time onstage that was just as enjoyable to watch as it was to listen to.
Traveling from city to city as the "Magical Properties Tour," all three artists hail from Los Angles and they all boast ties to the electronic music mecca Low End Theory. First to play was the duo Jogger. While it was refreshing to see a group utilizing a guitar or violin, the band never really seemed to reach their full potential and arrive at an engaging, original sound. The duo were a bit too concerned with trying to blend elements of rock with electro, which gave their sound a bit of a befuddled quality. Though it was nice to hear both guys in the band sing and employ some uncharacteristic elements in this style of music, it was obvious that Jogger still has some ground to cover before they find their voice.
As more people started to arrive at the venue, the vibe of the concert hall took on a distinct party club atmosphere. When Nosaj Thing came onstage the crowd was ready for the up and coming producer's set and eager to see what he would pull out. As Jason Chung (a.k.a. Nosaj Thing) started things off it was clear that his set was going to be a vast departure from his polished studio sound. On his underrated 2009 debut album, Drift, Chung made a name for himself with highly produced, atmospheric tunes that build on futuristic sonic landscapes. But live, Chung mixed things up and brought in more experimental elements. Though his studio work isn't necessarily music that's easy to dance to, Chung fed off the crowd's energy and matched their mood to help keep the audience moving. Chung was fun to watch as he banged on his MPC and guided his hands over various knobs, tweaking and turning them into desirable positions.
After Nosaj Thing finished a roughly one hour set, Daedelus stepped up, garbed in his characteristic Victorian attire, and began his set with an amazing display of skill on his Monome device. For those who are unfamiliar, the Monome is a futuristic instrument that connects to a computer and allows its user to play, loop and improvise samples while performing. The device has several translucent silicone buttons, backlit by LED bulbs, and makes it possible for the musician to incorporate an element of live instrumentation into a traditionally electronic sound. By fully using this instrument and playing it with uncompromising energy, Daedelus has built a reputation as a musician that cares deeply about physical performance aesthetics.
|Daedelus :: 02.06 :: San Francisco|
But Daedelus can't just be pegged as a shtick-y button pusher. The music he creates is an amalgamation of sampled tracks and recorded noises. With the constant onslaught of unpredictably chopped sounds, this hodgepodge can often result in music that isn't normally featured in a club setting. But during this show, Daedelus, like Nosaj Thing, was able to embrace a groove and allowed the crowd to do the same.
The driving beats that filled many of Daedelus' songs were hard hitting, somewhat pre-programmed and slightly glitchy, but punctuated with the looseness that only a live musician can provide. At times it was easy to get swallowed by the insouciant beats and just dance, at others it was hard to take an eye of Daedelus as he manhandled his Monome with flair. It was slightly strange to see Daedelus toy with such an intense sound so uncharacteristic of his experimental down-tempo studio work, but it was clear that he's a musician who thinks that each evening's performance should be tailor made for the present crowd.
Daedelus tour dates available here.
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