Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Throwing a Fit

While having a chat with someone at work, I ended up doing a quick search on MySpace for Daedelus so that I could share his music with a co-worker. Last.fm doesn't lie; my favorite artist is Daedelus. While on his MySpace page, I decided to explore a bit until I came across his live schedule. Daedelus was based in Los Angeles last time I checked, so I thought it might not be too hard to catch him playing San Francisco.

My jaw nearly dropped to the floor when I saw that he was playing on Friday, October 20. It isn't so surprising that he would play San Francisco, but it had to be more than a happy coincidence that he was playing San Francisco this Friday. I've had an unlucky streak with people who perform in the city on Thursdays, which makes me far less inclined to go. Moreover, there is no longer any pressure to invite Koko or feel awkward if she did or didn't come, so the timing was excellent. Opening for Daedelus would be Caural (whose music I know and enjoy) and Thavius Beck (an unknown to me at the time).

I made plans to see the concert with Alison, Ben, and Leah, but I was the only bona fide Daedelus nut in the bunch. I had a camera in my pocket with the hopes of getting a picture with Daedelus, and I even sent Daedelus a message before the concert to confirm that it was indeed a live show rather than a DJ set. I mention that because I got burned by my last Prefuse73 performance that turned out to be a DJ set; though there is nothing wrong with DJ sets in general, you have to be prepared for that or it's hard to have a good time.

Now, in having plugged my slow leak of compromise, I have rediscovered just how much of a music nut I am. I seldom sit around my condo in silence like I've often done for the past couple of years. I actively search out new musicians and contact them to praise or learn more about their work. At live shows, I always make it a point to greet and thank the artist(s) if possible. So when I walked in the front door of boca and saw Daedelus and another guy (who I later discovered was Caural) directly in front of me, I think I waited all of five minutes before I went over to start speaking.

"Hey man, thanks for coming out to play San Francisco. You're my favorite."

"Thanks, that really means a lot to me! I'm glad you enjoy it," he said, placing his hand over his heart.

"I've been following you since Invention, and I've been hooked on your music ever since. And your newest stuff is so hot."

"Wow, that's so kind of you to say. Thank you!" I'm not used to the artists I meet being so nice, but if there was an award for most humble talented musician, Daedelus would win it hands down. I then had him autograph my copy of Throw a Fit and snapped a picture with him. Daedelus also introduced me to Caural, who was equally kind and humble. And tall.

The show kicked off with Thavius Beck who immediately went off on his AKAI MPC1000 and PowerBook with bass-heavy ghetto electronic phatness. It's rare to see a brother at an electronica performance much less performing at one, but he and the crowd were definitely into the music he was performing. I kept turning around and looking at Ben with a pained expression on my face. "Daaaaaaamn, this is tight," I kept saying.

"Yeah, man! It's soooo good," BK would answer.

"Okay, I think I just bought another CD," I laughed. "I have got to hear this in my car."

When I returned to the vendor table where Daedelus was still working diligently in his long-tailed white tuxedo top, I had trouble buying Thavius Beck's album Thru because Daedelus couldn't change a twenty. He apologetically asked me if I could get change from the bar and return, to which I agreed. As long as I was going to the bar, I went back to my group and took drink orders for the next round. By this time Caural had taken the stage and started jamming some space age electronic hip hop the likes of which I wouldn't have expected based on my experience with his studio releases. I returned to Daedelus, change in hand.

"Dude, is this what the new Caural sounds like?"

"Yes, this song is from the new album. It's really good. I like it a lot."

"Looks like I didn't need change after all, then. Give me Thru and the new Caural album."

"Really? Thanks so much for the support!"

"You guys keep it hot like this and I'm going to be broke." After thinking about it for a moment, I added, "You better come with it, man. These cats can jam."

"This has been a really good set," Daedelus responded. "Everyone has a different style, but we complement each other well. I'll try to keep it interesting." Though I am a big fan of Daedelus, I had my reservations that he would have me out their dancing like Caural.

Working my way back to the stage area, I noticed something peculiar about Caural's performance. Though I would have been just fine enjoying the music without watching the actual performance (I secretly believe some laptop musicians press play on iTunes and play video games during their live sets), I could tell that Caural was very actively doing something. I adjusted my position so I could get a better view of his setup, and I saw both of his hands moving busily over a drum machine / sampling console.

It took another ten seconds or so to register that he was actually playing his beats and samples live. And I don't just mean the kick and the snare. He had high hats, kicks, snares, effects, and samples at his ready control. He was playing *ALL* of them live. Anyone who argues that the sampler is not an instrument clearly hasn't seen Caural perform; I've seen people online with similar finger skills but never live. And it wasn't just that he was making all his own beats, but the beats were so good. 

"Alison, do you see what he's doing?" Alison had been sitting in a chair bobbing her head to the music, her view of the stage obstructed by scores of crowd-goers.

"No, what's he doing?" she said, looking surprised.

"He's playing *ALL* that live, even the high hats!"

"What?!?" she said bounding to her feet. She worked her way forward to get a view of the stage. "Oh my God!" And suddenly Alison was really into the performance.

I relaxed into a deep hip hop groove and just danced while watching the stage and enjoying the music. At one point Caural changed tracks with a new sample loop that was so hot that he took both his hands off the console to roll his fists in front of his shoulders while alternately dropping his shoulders. It's hard for me to describe that dance, but it's not something you generally see white boys doing. But he made it look good; he knew he was rocking. "Get off!" I yelled encouragingly. "You betta get off!" At the end of his performance, the crowd went nuts.

Finally, Daedelus himself took the stage and began fiddling over a 16x16 grid of buttons hooked up to his MacBook Pro. It was classic Daedelus-style stuff, and I was still so hype from the Caural performance that I hardly noticed that I wasn't dancing any more. Alison and Leah left shortly after Daedelus took the stage, and after bidding them farewell, Ben and I got our final drinks for the evening. Around this time, Daedelus was incredulously playing "My Boo," which for some reason (read: alcohol), I was really digging. But then he laid the funk down when he stripped the song down to just the beat and brought in the first track from his Throw a Fit EP, "Admit Defeat."

It is one thing to want to dance; it is quite another to not be able to help dancing. The latter would pretty accurately describe the rest of the night as Daedelus assailed the crowd with his best works remixed for dancing. Ben and I were straight getting down, just like the rest of the crowd around us. I have never danced at a concert so hard, so much, for so long or so obliviously. All this for $10.

Ben and I greeted the artists one more time before heading out at the end of the concert, and I was surprised and pleased that Caural remembered my name from having met me when I first walked through the doors of the venue. Such a small courtesy to be paid, yet so few people do it. I'm glad I bought his album and had it autographed.

It doesn't matter what I did for the rest of the weekend. It was a great weekend at Friday night.


Anonymous said...

"It is one thing to want to dance; it is quite another to not be able to help dancing."

I saw this set in Chicago, I was already very familiar with Daedelus, and was pleasantly pleased by the others. I definitely couldn't help dancing, though usually timid, especially being by myself, I quickly noticed that no one else cared of my jerky dance moves, as they too were dancing incontrollably.

sav said...

i had the pleasure of seeing daedulus play at L.E.V. in spain.
my impression of him was that he was a little bit full of himself (overly animated as he works, kinda got on my nerves) but it's good to hear he's so grounded.
either way, i can't deny that he seriously upped the tempo on the night.
everyone went bananas.

i'm just reading your blog for the first time, and i usually wouldn't stop to read such long passages, but it's certainly enjoyable reading.

all the best.