Words by: Chris Clark | Images by: Paige K. Parsons
Four Tet/Nathan Fake/Rainbow Arabia/NewVillager :: 02.26 :: The Independent :: San Francisco, CA
Noise Pop 18 went off with a delicious bang last week, as electronic wizard Four Tet brought a set of modernistic minimalism with a decidedly dance floor erupting edge to San Francisco's Independent.
Night Three of the almost week-long annual event was yet another reminder of just how much diversity and world class talent the Bay sees grace its stages throughout the calendar year. Centered on highlighting the abundant local talent as well as national and internationally acclaimed touring artists, Noise Pop's 18th anniversary includes some of the indie world's brightest stars and budding up-and-comers. Hosted at over 20 venues throughout the Bay Area, from small art bars to large theaters, Noise Pop features music, art and film. With past performances from the likes of The Shins, Modest Mouse, The White Stripes and countless others, this year's festivities include another stellar lineup, including Four Tet, Yoko Ono, Memory Tapes and dozens of other indie-related acts.
Selling out far in advance, headliner Four Tet, along with supporting cast Nathan Fake, Rainbow Arabia and NewVillager, brought a quality performance to The Independent's packed crowd.
Some were there for breaking duo NewVillager, an odd, multi-media concoction of Ben Bromley and Ross Simonini, that delivers an electronically tingling New Pop sound. Their underground favorite "Rich Doors" portrays a strange brew of sculpting, percussive '80s-era gadgetry and layered vocals that clearly found a home in San Francisco. Husband and wife duo Rainbow Arabia take a multitude of seemingly unrelated textures and combine them with female vocals to produce an ethereal mélange of hallucination-inspiring sounds. Part tribal, part electronic, Rainbow Arabia fit right in with the plethora of burners and hipsters in the house. Think Gang Gang Dance performing at Al Bundy's house on Married with Children and you're off to a good start. Nathan Fake presented the most impressive opening performance this night. Featuring a massive catalogue of original music for a 25-year-old producer, London's Fake played a short set of dance beats complimented by a barrage of extraneous dissonance that, at times, thrived. His energy helped facilitate a dance floor vibe that would get the room properly warmed for the man of the hour.
Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet, is a modern music marvel. Widely heralded as one of the premier beat makers of his generation, he has spent the last decade fine-tuning his craft nearly to the point of perfection. Compositionally, there's no true way to define Four Tet's music other than experimental, unique and innovative. It's this very sense of singular experimentation that can either be jaw dropping live or, conversely, a bit of a snooze. With so much emotion and mood delivered with each track, witnessing Four Tet in the live setting is truly a shot in the dark as to which side will shine through. At The Independent, he was stellar and very much alive, delivering a carefully concocted collection of older tracks and fresh material from his recently released There is Love In You (JamBase review).
|Rainbow Arabia :: 02.26 :: San Francisco|
His set flowed effortlessly, treating the ever-enthusiastic crowd to a shining exhibition of syncopated kick-drums, electronic craftsmanship and beat-perfect placement. Sure, there were moments of auditory limpness but those brief stints were immediately followed by explosive club thump excursions where the room swayed collectively to each precisely layered beat.
Deftly capable and able to use an unusually limited number of sounds and make them paint an astoundingly full portrait, Four Tet performed new songs like "Angel Echoes" and "Sing" beautifully, with the latter's house-y undertones stirring the crowd into dance party fervor. Peppering his set with a taste of the new album and some choice cuts from Rounds and Ringer, Four Tet once again illustrated that he's second to none in taking flavors from all over and combining them into one delicious stew.
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