See also our Amon Tobin slideshow
Better than: All that shit that happened at Burning Man while you were on acid and can't remember anyway.
For trogedytes and other uninitiated, Amon Tobin is a Brazilian electronic composer and producer now in the middle of a mad project to radically alter how club patrons experience live music. This is all very fascinating – and more than a little mindblowing – but first there was an undercard to get through.
The first opening act was Emika and the crowd was plainly more interested in socializing than paying much heed to her. Icy, personal and hooky, her songs compel attention and demand respect, but moved damned few keisters at the Fonda. Everywhere a variegated crowd of doe-eyed beards, leggy girls, Burner folk, clubland vets, and cardigan-wearing guys who looked like they walked out of a 1963 Jeffery Hunter movie commingled and flirted, with a few even peeking over my shoulder to inquire charmingly after my note-scribbling. Nevertheless, Emika gave it her all before she diffidently packed it in.
This was less like your typical concert than the best nighclubbing you've had in years and the merry good humor welled through the lobby and up to the rooftop lounge between acts. The wait was short for Eskmo, who capered behind the deck like a lanky spider, in that he seemed to have eight arms, banging tin pots and water jugs in an effort to raise an already frantic level of bps to crazymaking levels. He brought the crowd with him, who warmed to the fellow's antics and soon began to jump and surge.
It was a little after eleven when the black curtain finally went up reveal a large, unsteady looking pile of white cubes. As the opening salvo from ISAM, Amon Tobin's latest album, was loosed, the structure began to glow and wink and fume with shapeshifting, abstract imagery and whorls of light, all pulsing to Tobin's fierce music. It was joyous, unsettling, energizing and, judging from the sweat and writhing, comprehensively thumpadelic. It made every prior effort to utilize imagery and multimedia in a concert setting look as crude as a Hoot Gibson movie and uninvolving as wallpaper.
A rockist might cavil that this was little better than Pink Floyd: The Wallpaper, but no such complaint was audible in last night's sweaty din. Tobin himself, inside the great, glowing mishigas, was little seen and heartily cheered when he finally did shyly poke his head out from under the installation. It seems the person who said writing about music is like dancing about architecture was clueless in ways previously undreamt by clubgoers.
Critical bias: I nearly wept with joy when Roger Waters' giant inflated pig escaped at Coachella 2008.
Random notebook dump: Thanks to the girl at the box office for lending me the Sharpie. I promise you'll get it back.
Overheard: Girl standing next to speaker: “I feel like my face is getting a massage.”
Set list below.
Dropped fron the Sky
Lost & Found
Mass & Spring
Dropped from the Sky
4 Ton Mantis