View From the Front Row, 10/28/10
A very belated concert review here, but I wanted to share some of my experiences from the Magical Properties 2010 tour when it passed through San Francisco a week or two ago. The line-up of this tour consisted of a handful of musicians at the forefront of the progressive beat scene in LA, so naturally the event had a massive turn-out. Tickets were going for $20 a pop at the door, which was more than I expected to pay for an electronic show but a wise price given the number of people that rolled out. This was my first time in 1050 Folsom, and the club definitely felt like the sort of flashy light club you see in the clubbing scenes of films. It had a nice electronic rave type of atmosphere to it, but the prices at the bar were brutal, charging 9 bucks for a Jack & Coke and 4(!) for a bottle of water. I stopped by the merch booth and chatted with Daedelus a tiny bit before the show, picked up Teebs' album there and he was kind enough to throw in a tour B-sides CD on the house. I also met a gal at the merch booth who had flown in from Japan with her friends specifically to see the show! More proof that the LA beat scene has seriously taken off.
There were 3 different rooms with different DJs and artists doing sets. Fortunately, one room was completely devoted to the artists on this tour, so that's where I stuck to. Teebs started things off with a set of hazy brain-bending electronics. His music is usually the sort of stuff you want to just zone out and float to rather than dance over, but the heavy bass in his songs definitely felt more live over club speakers. He also only tweaked out a few tracks from his album, predominantly focussing on more club-friendly beats that were still very distinctive and impressive. Definitely a talented musician and one of the reasons I decided to go and check out the show. His set was less dance party-oriented than the other performers, but just as interesting to hear.
12th Planet, who I'd never heard of before, went on next at a turntable set-up located at the opposite end of the room. I had to rush my way over there and weasel through a bit of the crowd to maintain my signature front row position. 12th Planet played a set of straight upbeat, glitchy dubstep music that had a lot of the crowd going nuts on the dance-floor. It was a live set that accomplished the objective of getting the audience's collective ass in gear, but it went on for a bit too long, starting at around 10:40 and ending after 1 AM. I had a similar experience seeing Kode9 open for Flying Lotus - both enjoyable sets, but wish they'd been cut down a tad.
Gaslamp Killer ended up taking over the spot that 12th Planet occupied and put on an entertaining mix of songs and sound modifications. In listening to GLK's music, it's hard to discern how much of it is a mash-up of tracks and how much it is fully fleshed-out beats. After seeing him live, I'm still not sure... He used a laptop and turntables to play a variety of modern dance-able electronic songs he liked mixed with some sinister old school psychedelic rock, but he also had a hand-pad that he used to distort and modify the songs that he was playing. With his funky hair and flat-out enthusiasm over the mix, it was a kick to watch him hold it down live. Probably the coolest set of the evening.
I noticed Daedelus setting up shop on the opposite end of the room near the final moments of Gaslamp Killer's set, so I made my way over there to the front before the rest of the flood of people were aware of it. By this time, it was after 2 and I was worried that the club authorities would ask that the show be cut short, but fortunately the venue stayed open a while longer. Daedelus is one of my favorite producers and I've seen him many times live. He always manages to make his live shows unpredictable and interesting by crafting dance tunes on the spot using his infamous blinking button pad. He rarely plays more than fragments of the tunes from his actual albums (which he has an extensive selection of), so you never know what he'll hit you with. The set on this tour followed that tradition of unpredictable talent, but was not the most memorable I've seen from him due to how late it was and how tired I'd gotten by that time. When I left the venue at 3, a good amount of the crowd has understandably peetered out. Still a damn good set though, and a damn good tour to boot!