If you were paying attention to the evolution of electronic music back in 2008, you were probably hearing a lot from Justice, MSTRKRFT, and of course, Simian Mobile Disco. Since then all three have had their fair share of ups and downs with album flops and minor successes but when it comes to live performances, it seems as though Simian Mobile Disco has it down pat.
Opening this year’s touring HARD Fest were electronic younglings Destructo, Egyptrixx, Mumbai Science, and the increasingly popular Fake Blood. This was my second time seeing Fake Blood (aka Theo Keating, also known as Touché) since last year’s Spookfest with Underworld and DJ Shadow. My thoughts on him haven’t really changed though. He’s good at what he does, which is heavy beat oriented music that boarders on house and modern electronic rock music. You wouldn’t catch me listening to anything by him unless I’m watching a Mitsubishi or Budweiser commercial (which his music is featured in). But for everyone else attending the show, he certainly had the audience moving.
Now as far as I was concerned, Simian had dropped off the music-map for me. After 2007’s Attack Decay Sustain Release, I stopped paying attention to these guys completely. It’s not a knock at them or the album; in fact Attack Decay Sustain Release is a very fun and overall complex dance record that will probably go down in history as an influential album for modern electronic music. But despite how clever and catchy the album was, I took a break from that genre entirely for quite some time. So when I was called to cover the show, I felt like I needed to catch up on what the duo, James Ford and James Anthony Shaw, have been up to.
I didn’t connect all too well with the songs from 2008’s Temporary Pleasure or 2010’s Delicatessen & Delicacies; except maybe Audacity of Huge, which was great to hear. I did however feel compelled to bust-a-move to older songs like Tits & Acid, Hustler, and Sleep Deprivation. They still hold their value even though electronic music is a fast evolving genre with many up-and-coming acts dissolving in a matter of months. But even if the new material wasn’t resonating with me, watching the guys perform was a real treat. With a rack of vintage analog equipment (Sequential Circuits Drumtraks, KORG MS20, etc) paired with a Mac Laptop Sequencer all packed into the center of the stage, the duo ran and danced around the console like they were defusing a bomb. That is what made the show that much more exciting, it wasn’t like they were merely twisting knobs and pushing buttons. It seemed as though they set it up that way so they could make more work for themselves, the result being a more high energy event that showcased the technical aspect of their music.
Closing with I Believe and an extended outro, I left the show with a new found urge to return to a genre I had avoided for the past 3 years. With the new Justice album on the horizon and now this impressive performance, I think I may be time to do just that.