move along now, nothing to see
i wasn't especially looking forward to the autechre show on may 8, since electronic shows in places bigger than a lounge have had somewhat mixed results in my opinion (although i did enthuse about the kid606 show i saw). to me, autechre's music is headphone music. but between ben and bianca's coaxing and a few decent reviews on the idm list, i opted to give it a fair shot.
dj rob hall was surprisingly better than my expectations (which were zero since i'd heard nothing). the music was so clean and the beatmatching so seamless, you'd have had no idea he was spinning records. he made ben and i happy with a good amount of dark trance, spun in two different sets (the second of which was amazingly hypnotic). he also went with some detroit-like electro and harder beats. it's kind of a blur now, but a good blur. not an alcohol-induced one though; the drinks at webster hall were so expensive i stayed dry. however, the monumental sound system lived up to its reputation.
snd were also a good warm-up choice for autechre since both bands share the "never let the beat drop" tendency. snd favored textures that sounded like tech-house, but chopped them up incessantly so there was never a regular beat to be heard for a full measure. except for a few uninteresting bits, i enjoyed their set.
the openers at least had some kind of lights. autechre opted for near-total darkness. only the bar, the exit signs, and the glow of their own gear lit the main floor. i have to say i thought their first 9 minutes were boring. they pummeled us with tired kick and snare beats that anyone could have done. we had to strain to hear anything other than those two sounds.
then suddenly counter-rhythms came in, other elements dropped out, and for the next hour we were in a click-and-glitch-filled heaven. there might have been elements from various recorded songs used, but it mainly seemed like one giant long flowing improv set. although they had no show whatsoever, the music was engaging enough to keep people twitching and head-bobbing in all directions. some brave souls even danced. each new sonic variation sent the crowd into ecstatic whoops, and the careful introduction of sub-bass notes from time to time was used to devastating effect.
while i think a lightshow of some kind might have made things more interesting overall, another part of me can't help but think anything visual would have distracted from the intricacy of autechre's compositions and sounds. as it was, i was transported back into my headphones. except i was in a room full of people, and the headphones were wall-mounted and better than anything i could afford.
the title of this post comes from officer barbrady on south park.