Week nights at the Music Box are no joke. With plentiful (but expensive) beverages pouring at the bar, a sound system that will have your ears ringing for days on end, and a concert-hall feel, it’s fast become one of my favorite venues for a number of different music genres. So when I found out that Digitalism was playing the Music Box last Tuesday (presented by the good people at Golden Voice), the decisions to go out on a week night or stay home was a pretty easy one to make.
Recalling my friend Sparks’s reasons for seeing Digitalism over Chromeo’s set at Hard Summer 2011:
[a) These guys are from Germany and hardly ever come Stateside; b) They are playing a live set which only adds to the exclusivity of this particular show; c) This is the closest she is going to get to getting laid this summer while her boo is international.]
For the full photoset, click here!
I went into the show excited as hell. Digitalism’s unique brand of electronic-punk-rock cross-genre Frankenstein baby music is seriously one of a kind and made all the more awesome when you have frontman Jens Moelle belting out vocals over Isi Tufekci’s funky guitar strumming, or his upbeat drumpad playing, or his effects-heavy synth work. Not to say that Isi does all the work; Jens is right up in there with his own stable of electronic controllers and hardware to help build complex but upbeat layers. Though I couldn’t find any verifying information, it seems the duo has also been traveling as a trio recently with a full-time drummer keeping the musical heart pumping.
Their opener, Canadian duo Data Romance (Amy Kirckpatrick and Ajay Bhattacharyya), came on stage with very little fanfare and started playing a fantastic set spanning from the solemn to the upbeat, the glitchy to the dub. I had a pretty hard time trying to properly identify their music; their BPMs were all over the place, from 120+ dance tunes to downtempo < 90 ballads. To close off, they threw down a great showing of a vocal-laced dubstep track with tension-building layers and a properly dirty bassline. But throughout their dynamic range of genres, certain musical consistencies persisted:
- Amy’s cutesy, yet ethereal vocal style — highly expressive, at some times natural, at others electronically distorted
- Ajay’s fervent body bobbing (not just head bobbing) as he triggered, played keys, e-drummed, and crafted melody lines, rhythms, and different ambient textures for Amy to sing on
The best way I could describe them was like M83 meets Stars (Ajay looks just as expressive as the guys from Glitch Mob when he plays). On top of that, Amy sort of looked like (a young and hot) Michelle Branch in the dim lighting AND had a seemingly ridiculous number of tracks to sing on. “Holy eff, that’s a sh*t ton of lyrics,” I remember thinking.
Whatever their music is, I’m definitely a new fan!
Back to the main event. As soon as intermission was over, Digitalism promptly took their spots, did a quick sound check, put their feet to the floor in high gear, and maintained an insane pace for the remaining two hours of the evening. With smooth yet unpredictable transitions, they went from rock to electronic, to some happy upbeat stuff, to some proper punk rock and everything in between. They belted out their biggest hits off both albums (Idealism and I Love You Dude) one after another with little perceived reason (or order) besides how they felt and whatever sounded good.
All good here though. I’m not complaining. I loved that they were able to jump back and forth so smoothly, mixing up genres, albums, and tracks. I went absolutely nuts when they dropped a heavy techno-synth remix of “2 Hearts,” raised the BPMs from a fist-pump pace to manic head bobbing, then transitioned into the pop friendly original of “2 <3′s.” Other track highlights were “Antibiotics” (video below), and of course, their VERY last song of the night, “Pogo.” Damn them for holding out on my favorite track for so long. My feet were dead by the end of the night.
Like Digitalism’s music, the visuals and overall energy of the show were unrelenting. Their work stations were lined with multiple LED towers that prompted the “close eyes, slightly smile, and sway” move — not just because I was so focused on the music, but because I feared my eyes might burst into fiery ping pong balls. On the back wall, they had video projections framed in three blocky hearts, filled with a myriad of visuals: geometric, rounded, organic, mechanical, and towards the end of the night, real video of a roller coaster ride…
Thanks again, Golden Voice!
Side note about the people: Overall, I was a big fan of the really passionate crowd. Digitalism’s music is just fun and danceable, plain and simple. I loved that people there knew and appreciated the duo. I felt the Music Box’s floor shake a few times, and at certain points, the mashing up was okay and appropriate for such a fantastically high-energy act.
But to the group of little-red-cotton-ball-tipped-hat & tank-top-rocking SANTA BROS near the front. Pushing through the crowd and spilling beer on everyone isn’t really a solid way to show holiday cheer. BRO BRO BRO, Merry Xmas.
For the full photoset, click here!