Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You Missed Out: Gold Panda

(published by Heave Media)

Isn't it fun when people dance in Schubas? I generally consider Schubas to be Chicago's "quiet venue" where singer songwriters strum on acoustic guitars without much need for any amplification at all. But sometimes they bring in an artist like Gold Panda, and the bass overwhelms us. So we move around.

Gold Panda's Lucky Shiner was one of my favorite albums of 2010. It was an epitome of recorded electronic music, blending glo-fi, glitch and glistening minimalism. The music requires a MIDI controller to be performed live, making the potential for improvisation a highlight of the show. While the crowd anxiously awaits the next beat or chord change that they always look forward to on record, we're forced to bob our heads up and down a little longer as Gold Panda stretches the bridges a few measures more. The songs are all essentially the same, but extended just enough to maintain that element of surprise.

During the show last night, I couldn't help but think of John Cage--specifically his prepared piano. As I'm sure audiences were surprised by the unexpected sounds emitted by his keys, artists like Gold Panda, Dam-Mantle, Baths and Mount Kimbie use a 21st century edition of a pre-programmed percussive device to experiment with new sound combinations.

But John Cage never made people dance. Gold Panda succeeded with his prepared instrument, and at Schubas no less. Without a light show or anything.

The projected visuals were pretty, but too often became distorted. It looked like someone's laptop didn't have enough memory or something. But other than that mishap, it was invigorating to have the UK's freshest beat-maker bring his bliss to a sold-out Schubas crowd on a Tuesday night.

No comments: