You knew things were getting out of control last night at the Roxy when a few young men -- excuse me, let's call them 'douchebags' -- started chanting "Let's go Lakers! Let's go Lakers!" during Detroit techno rebels Dopplereffekt's first-ever LA performance at the Roxy. The people were ready to stumble, slobber and pump their fists in rhythm with music, and didn't have time for the kind of slow-build musical ascendence that head Doppler mystery man "Rudolf Klorzeiger" had planned. This became apparent immediately, and only got worse over the course of the evening. The guys in the crowd appeared to have been bussed in from some frat in suburban Omaha -- or, perhaps worse, Beverly Hills. They were ready to be pleasured. After all, they had gotten in for free, it was a Wednesday night, and the place was half empty. Time for a party, dude.
Here's my Twitter feed of the night's activities:
LilEdit: Dopplereffekt at the roxy. Detroit #techno, not huge crowd, free. it's a light-show and performance. Curtain drawn, 20 mins til start.
Wed, May 20, 2009 11:42 PM
LilEdit: Weird. Dopplereffekt just came out started their first track, played for 30 seconds, the Donald Gerald motioned to cut, and walked off.
Wed, May 20, 2009 11:48 PM
LilEdit: They're back on and moving through first ambient track
Wed, May 20, 2009 11:54 PM
LilEdit: Wow, the LA idiots are out in force for this free show. Very drunken crowd.
Wed, May 20, 2009 11:55 PM
LilEdit: Some dudes are chanting 'let's go lakers' during dopplereffekt,s set. Ambient opening isn't flying in weho.
Thu, May 21, 2009 12:00 AM
LilEdit: Maybe this would be working better at #thesmell. Roxy fellas got no time for experimental stuff. There are actual boos.
Thu, May 21, 2009 12:05 AM
LilEdit: Some guy just screamed, 'I have way more money than you. Way more. And I fucked more people than you, bitch.' Wow. Quality crowd.
Thu, May 21, 2009 12:12 AM
LilEdit: Dopplereffekt is finally doing stuff with beats, but are only slowly regaining the crowd.
Thu, May 21, 2009 12:15 AM
LilEdit: Dopplereffekt finally getting into the 130 bpm range.
Thu, May 21, 2009 12:24 AM
LilEdit: Now I understand. These are #Justice fans.
Thu, May 21, 2009 12:38 AM
LilEdit: Security has kicked out three douche bags, and those are but a pittance that he coulda. Dopplereffekt is now totally funky and fast.
Thu, May 21, 2009 12:43 AM
To be fair, Dopplereffekt and the promoters are not without blame. These Scion shows are, for the most part, about dancing, partying, and connecting a certain lifestyle with a certain automobile, and though that message may bleed over into more experimental realms -- Scion sponsors some of the world's most interesting DJs (and metal bands) -- most of the previous installments of this ongoing series have been beat-heavy dance acts of the DFA and L.A. Riots variety. So when a crowd shows up ready for one thing and their expectations aren't met, like when Dopplereffekt kicked off the show with about 15 minutes of slow, repetitive ambient meanderings, the entitled babies in the crowd (and I'm talking about the men because, for the most part, the women in the audience seemed much more forgiving, and were dancing by the end) are apt to throw a tantrum.
There are two ways for an artist to respond in this case: either pump up the jamz and feed the baby, or ignore it and let him whine and scream. Dopplereffekt did the latter. Dressed in all black and wearing black masks, the two members of the pioneering electro duo stood in front of their keyboards on either side of a projection screen and performed a set that, while gratifying on a certain level, failed to impress the crowd, to say the least. After that intro -- repetitive tones that looped without too much progression and weren't all that engaging, the pair eventually dropped a deep bassline, then a steady rhythm, and tried to push the crowd to dance. But it was a very slow build, and didn't progress in surprising ways. The crowd got louder. Audible boos. The group closest to the stage actually turned their backs and leaned their asses on the stage, completely ignoring the music.
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Never once did Dopplereffekt acknowledge the audience, nor did either of the pair, a man and a woman, move their bodies with the rhythm. The closest thing to dancing that "Rudolf Klorzeiger" did was this sort of Minimal Mambo finger pattern with his left hand while his right hand poked at melodies on a synthesizer. They didn't do any of their bangers -- no "Porno Actress,," no "Satellites," no "Sterilization." Which is unfortunate, especially in the case of the latter track, with the ominous and, in the case of last night's crowd, convincing, refrain, "We've got to sterilize the population."
But in the end, it's about respect. There are two human beings onstage doing something challenging and thoughtful, something that's not merely about pulling down your pants and wagging your dick in the air, but is about information, technology, rhythm, texture. Nor is it a man with a funny haircut standing in front of a MacBook and waving his fist in the air, which is perhaps the only thing that would have worked for these brats last night.