With Gold Panda
Autolux has always seemed like one of those bands destined to fall between the cracks. 10 years ago when major labels actually had signing power, Autolux would have invariably been signed, and finding that their explosive shoegaze/My Bloody Valentine feedback worship doesn’t exactly move units, would inevitably be shelved. Luckily, we live in an era where bands like Autolux who have extensive indie cred and yet are incredibly well funded and well connected, don’t have to rely on major label endorsements to draw a crowd on a school night. They did play at Urban Lounge—let’s keep this in perspective.
Watching Autolux play is like watching a controlled detonation: so many painstaking details just to watch something explode into a million pieces. Likewise, Autolux’s set was professional down to the last detail. Small, single-bulb lamps and white satin ribbon lights were tied to just about every mic stand and amplifier onstage. When turned on, they bathed the stage in a warm, almost library-like tungsten glow. With as much exposition as Autolux put into their live show the performance itself exceeded the lofty expectations set by mood and ambience. The trio took stage dressed in uniform black long-sleeved shirts amidst a literal sea of pedals. I have some impressive set ups in my time, but this was almost too much. Guitarist Greg Edwards’ feet were not only cluttered by a gutted Musician’s Friend store worth of sequencers and pedals, but to his stage right was a table full of even more sequencers and a midi controller. This set up would have seemed like overkill if at least at one point in the night every one of these noise-making devices weren’t used. At times, such as during the unspeakably loud finale, it seemed as if all of them were switched on at once, creating a deafening locust swarm of stuttering bleeps and no-input squalor.
The hero of the night was drummer Carla Azar’s unconventional (for a rock band) drumming technique that allowed her play unbelievably fast triplets with her left hand while letting loose a primal thud with her right. Her ferocity behind the drums matched Edwards and Eugene Goreshter’s aural onslaught of feedback-drenched cacophony. The trio looked perfectly composed and played locked in before shattering the illusion of control when they unleashed feedback-as-a-weapon extended jams on almost every song. While playing a majority of new tracks off of their August released Transit Transit, their greatest returns were off some of the “hits” such as “Turnstyle Blues” and “Subzero Fun” off of 2004’s Future Perfect.
Autolux was great, excellent in fact. But the big draw for me was their choice of tour mate, the amicable British electronic musician Gold Panda. Gold Panda’s 2009 single “Quitters Raga” holds the number one spot on my iTunes most played list by a long shot. I am not going to tell you how many that is, but there was about a four month period that I played that song every day, sometimes multiple times in an hour. Gold Panda performed admirably. His mid tones were filled up with a comfortable drone akin to ambient luminaries Tim Hecker and Fennesz, with chest rattling house bass hits keeping the tempo. Gold Panda’s exotic samples that spanned from clanking gamelans to Bollywood soundtracks made for the most thrilling moments of his set. Tracks featuring these elements like “Same Dream Chime” off his yet-to-be-released album Lucky Shiner and of course his solid-gold hit “Quitters Raga” filtered third-world pop music through a swirling vortex of post-rave big-beat house and warm ambient tones.
My wife (then girlfriend) introduced Autolux to me a few years ago. This glimpse into her musical tastes sealed the deal for me right then and there. I had been listening to a lot of bands like Blonde Redhead and Sonic Youth at that time and Autolux seemed like a perfect reinterpretation of that time period of early 90s shoegaze. Monday night’s performance cemented their place within those hallowed ranks.