After taking part in the wonderful convenience of early voting, Castro and I headed down to The Bluebird to catch The Dears. They have very recently released “Missiles”, their fourth studio album, and we were very excited to see them live. When we got to the venue at 9:40, however, it turned out that headliners The Secret Machines were already knee deep in their set. The Dears had gone on at the retirement home slot of 8:00.
Texas bred and New York planted TSM’s set started out very slow and drawn out as new "psychedelic' rock usually goes. But these three, at least at this gig, didn’t sell it. The set felt like it was thrown together while they were coming on stage. During a handful of songs, sleepy looking guitarist, Phil Karnats was not in the same key or on the same planet as Brandon Curtis (keys, vocals, bass) or Josh Garza (drums). As progressive as the band is, and considering how long they’ve been together (since 2000), there was a bunch of pedal resetting and tweaking during the show resembling a high school battle of the bands semi-final.
On the other hand, the band did give out these rad Nogglevision type 3D glasses that made the lights on the stage dance and trail around. That was definitely a plus, but not enough to pull a ho-hum set out of the dirt. Either I needed to have a lot more to drink or it was just a bad set. I’m not saying The Secret Machines are a bad band. This was just a rubbish show. Obviously I wasn't the only one disappointed with the gig. As I was snapping pics of the set list, drummer and one of the two original founders, Josh Garza approached the sound board immediately after the last song and yelled at the engineer, saying something to the likes of "You think I can't fire you? That's it! You're done!" Yikes!
Eleven o' clock found us standing on Colfax underneath the already changed marquee. Our night was nowhere near done. The Mad Decent tour fell on Cervantes' Monday night and brought with it Boy 8-Bit, Telepathe, and Abe Vigoda. But we left the 'Fax for Five Points for one thing in particular. Diplo.
In the time of what I call ADDJs (this term is property of Randy M. Washington and A Walking Disaster), Diplo presents a fresh take on mixing music. Instead of bashing you over the head with the blatancy of each track he is mixing (I'm looking at you, Girl Talk), he cleanly and subtly moves between jams and genres like a musical ninja. Seeing Diplo spin from a foot away really gives no justice to the mixes you may have heard already (i.e. the FABRICLIVE mix, or "I Like Turtles"). There were a couple of things that the audience expected like mixing in and out of his own remix of Harder, Better, Faster, Stonger. But then he went on to do things that I don't really think the crowd was prepared for. He used M.I.A.'s "Boys" as a springboard in the high part of the set and then went back to her during the hip hop section sampling the extremely popular and surprisingly warm "Paper Planes". Silencing and baffling the teenage hipster larvae, he went into The Prodigy twice; once into "Smack My Bitch Up" off of Fat of the Land and again reaching even further back with "Out of Space".
The flexible DJ put on a two hour set going well past the nonsensical curfew laws in this city. All the way up to two o'clock, Diplo kept the close crowd involved by wearing a Halloween mask and saying that the only way that he would keep playing if everyone votes for Obama. Flanked on both sides by a giant dancing piece of pizza and hot dog, Diplo kept the night fun and light. Wherever the Mad Decent Tour falls, that venue will be lucky and its patrons will not be disappointed.
Text: Randy M. Washington
Photo: Robert Castro