Seattle’s Neumos was packed to the brim on Tuesday for a sold out Bonobo set. Opening for Bonobo was the talented Jeremy Sole, who blew us away with his fusion of world beats. To quote the DJ, his mission was to “liberate the beat” no matter where it came from. And so, we were treated with a unique set that originated in the Middle East, took a quick trip to India, jetsetted to Africa, bounced into Latin America, and finally landed somewhere in the vast world of electronic music – certainly incorporating the techno of Detroit and the hip-hop of Los Angeles. Needless to say, it was impressive to see a different force in the DJ world, giving us something not widely heard.
Bonobo leads us gently into sounds you might not expect from the star child, if you are unfamiliar with his work as a DJ. The set was chalk full of classics and new tunes alike but what really made it interesting was his use of atmospheric sounds and some pretty left-field techno-esque tracks. His lighting was impressive as always – never using the same effect twice. This time around, there was everything from traditional spotlights and LED panels, to rotating lights that played with shadows on laser-cut grates – truly novel, understated, and totally Bonobo. But, the performance of these talented DJs is not what piqued our interest. Instead, we found this mid-week event to illuminate the troubled state of the modern electronic show.
Before you go to a gig, it is probably a good idea to know what kind of music is going to be played and generally get a vibe for what it is going to be like. Bonobo is not the sort of DJ where you ‘throw down hard’, ‘rage’, or get ‘off your face’. Yes, everybody appreciates music in their own way but you are going to be sorely disappointed if you are waiting for “the drop” at a show like this. Chest-shakingly, satisfying bass no doubt, but that was not the focus of his performance. We have touched on the intersection of drugs and dance music before but it just seems out of place to take a bunch of MDMA and go to what is generally considered a pretty chill, albeit slightly trippy set.
If people choose to take said drug at said show, they end up being that obnoxious couple or group who is all over each other and is in everyone else’s way. This sort of behavior seems far more in tune with the massive events, where its easier for everyone to have their own space. At a Bonobo show, when you scream to your friends in close proximity about how awesome Radiohead is in the middle of a fantastic set, you come across a bit ridiculous. And when you spend more time looking at each other (and not dancing) than you do at the stage, it quickly becomes a mystery as to why they even bought a ticket.
These actions really help to diminish our already highly controversial scene. Being obnoxious, if you are on something or not, really flies in the face of what electronica used to be. Shows, massives, raves, and festivals used to be places of free expression and respect but now we are in danger of losing that. It used to be all about the music and the people, and for many it still is, but now, as electronic music takes the spotlight, we are seeing more ridiculous behavior at our church of dance. For an increasingly sad number of punters, it is all about the drugs. Take drugs, get ridiculous, stare at the lights, go home, and promptly forget at least half of the night. The faceless experiences add up and soon it all blurs into one laser-filled memory where you knew you had fun, but don’t know exactly how or why.
For the record, we are not saying “don’t do drugs”. We are not saying “do drugs” either. We are saying: come for the music and the people. It is all about the experience and that means so much more when you can focus on the community, the artists who are working their asses off to make you dance, and the general splendor of the electronic music show. If you decide to enhance that experience in some way, try to be mindful of those who have not made that decision. Or, at the very least, save it for an event where your shenanigans may be a bit more accepted.
To Seattle’s credit, most people were there just to dance and have a good time. It takes a dedicated fan base or at least an interested populace to come out and boogie on a weeknight. Bonobo was certainly impressed as he thanked us several times for making the Tuesday trek to Neumos, and even went as far to say that this was his favorite gig in the U.S. so far! As a token of a his gratitude, we were thanked with a double encore. Well done, Seattle!
Be sure to check out a recent set from Jeremy Sole as well:
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