After three days of dreary drizzle, the mist dissipated enough to allow a dry ride to Urban. Without fenders, a day in the rain can wreak havoc on the crotch of your pants, so I was more than thankful to arrive without a faux diaper-leak. I walked past two impenetrable piles of bikes and found a rack with just enough room to squeeze in. The line was impressively short, made advantageous by the fact that it was about to spill into the street, and promoted a brisk arrival inside, followed by a sudden and intense yearning to be back out.
Oscillator Bug was halfway through his first song when I entered the main room. Mic draped around his neck, he whipped back and forth, arms crunched like a T-Rex, and turned seemingly random knobs on his mixer. Intermittently, a synth would cut in with intense chordage, forming a wall of sound. Screeching electric notes, much like a dial-up login fortissimo, cut into my ear drums and began melting my auditory cortex. I pawed at my ears with squinted eyes and attempted to focus on the mini light show dribbling across the stage back. The LEDs couldn't keep my focus long enough to distract from a second set of massive and unnecessary sub-woofers being hauled onto stage. Mid-set, The Hood Internet assumed, for some reason, that the crowd wanted the cacophony to deafen them. Approximately seven people were dancing up front when the incessant thump-thump and repetitive robot screams subsided. I happily escaped outside and committed the next three minutes to releasing the tension I had just created in my shoulder blades.
The opening act created nervous apprehension in the pit of my stomach in regards to the remainder of the show. I found the courage to return indoors and snuck to stage right to gain a better view than from my previous position. One half of The Hood Internet stomped onstage, slammed down a covert can of Cherney Bock and stiffly swung his arms above his head holding up a #1 sign. Oh no. STV SLV was the only one of the duo to make it onto stage and was left to dance on his own. Chugging bass overlaid with intense, windy noises morphed suddenly into Two Chainz's voice. "I'm Different" was a foolish song choice, but created a slightly pleasant oxymoron in comparison to the reality of The Hood Internet's set. After pressing play, SLV occasionally turned a knob to emphasize the melody or turn up the bass. Otherwise, he was completely uninvolved in the music generation process and, instead, pranced around his laptop and pumped his fist. I realized that Starfucker, a personal favorite, was part of the mash-up and my annoyance doubled.
Song after song featured an artist I enjoyed paired with sub-par production and a cliche radio hip-hop artist. The final straw was his rendition of "Ignition" by R. Kelly which could barely be discerned over a ridiculous, trancy bass-line. The chorus broke at three times normal speed and I panicked. In two seconds flat I was on the back patio where "toot toot" and "beep beep" were slightly less offensive. The population on the patio had increased tremendously and I was left to assume that I wasn't the only one trying to bolt.
The LEDs were removed and a large projection screen had taken their place when I returned. I was excited for my first experience of Black Moth Super Rainbow's live set, especially with the release of Cobra Juicy at the end of last year. The crowd was becoming restless and their sweat drying, so to counteract the slowing down of their heart rates a small, drunken mosh pit formed and the floor became sticky with a thick film of beer. I squatted and tightened my Chucks to avoid them being unexpectedly pulled off my feet by a rouge patch of PBR and stood up just in time to witness Black Moth entering the stage.
TOBACCO stood three feet from the left edge over his vocoder and The Seven Fields of Aphelion meandered even closer to the ledge and right next to TOBACCO. She bent lovingly over her synth as the trippy opening to "Hairspray Heart" (from Cobra Juicy) waved out of the ceiling amps. Iffernaut tromped onto stage, completely blacked out and donning her typical ski mask (ninja style). With perfect timing she tapped out a snapping snare section and tumbled the band into the meaty section of the song.
After the full official video of "Hairspray Heart," successive songs showed a projection of an abandoned and rubbishy swing-set in the foreground of a large nuclear reactor tower. The only consistently visible band member was Iffernaut, and only so because she was directly in the center of the stage. It became quickly obvious that BMSR want to remain hidden and background to their sound, even in a live setting. The electronic elements of the music were balanced perfectly with Iffernaut's intense percussion and energy. I was impressed with how the production was even more enthusiastic and danceable than their recorded albums.
Several songs later, the same projection was stagnating on the screen and Black Moth's stage presence was consistently non-existent. "Twin of Myself" helped me forget that I wasn't being visually stimulated and I swayed back and forth in a mash of people doing the same, beer lifted above my head to avoid furthering the alcoholic shoe-glue dilemma. I tried to remind myself that they are a band that prefers to remain mysterious, which is doubtlessly why they refused to let the crowd in and show their personalities through their performance. However, after the last note or cymbal of each number, I was left more and more dissatisfied. Their incredible musicianship was hard to appreciate when I only had a photograph to stare at.
Every few songs the projection switched themes between industrial and nature scenes. This was an intriguing message which I enjoyed. It could have been improved by more on-screen movement or a quicker barrage of digital screen shots, though. After watching an old man sit in a cemetery for eight minutes, regardless of what you're trying to portray, it starts to get boring. Ryan Graveface was so far in the back, and by himself on stage right that I couldn't figure out where he was until almost two thirds of the way through the show. He was wearing all black and, as such, blended into the background so I only got one capsulated glance of him through the cornucopia of bopping heads.
Intense drum and bass breakdowns redeemed a bit of the monotonous nature of the show. I danced my shoes off, even with all of my previous precautions, and was jostled to and fro for several minutes before my friend grabbed the back of my squeaky pleather moto-jacket and saved me from being lost completely. "Forever Heavy" ricocheted slowly off my eyelids and again I was absorbed in downtempo psychedelia. Another new track, "Windshield Smasher," from Cobra Juicy, was a perfect choice for the live set and allowed Pony Diver, who was also hidden in the very back corner opposite of Graveface, even more presence in the performance.
In the end, I was disappointed by the complete lack of presentation from the five piece. The music sounded incredible, even though it was difficult to discern the vocals over the noise of the crowd, and the entire show could have blown my mind if a little more effort had been placed into the visual aspect of their concert. Admittedly, my distaste for the two opening acts increased my disenchantment. My love for their music hasn't subsided, but I wouldn't waste my time on another live show.