Nosaj Thing at the Bluebird, 11/20/10
With Jogger • Toro Y Moi
11.20.10 | Bluebird Theater
This is not a diatribe dedicated to hating on electronic music, music made via laptop, patchy synths or anything else that involves playing instrumentation off of a card table. This is simply a timeline of Saturday night's Nosaj Thing show at the Bluebird Theater, an anti-climactic, downward spiral ending in an encore that had to have been a joke played on his audience by Jason Chung, aka. Nosaj Thing. The Los Angeles' headliner, openers Jogger and the faint upswing of Toro Y Moi sandwiched between these flat, druggie-feeling and boring performances were a force to be slept through, glimpses of life delivered only in the simplistic visual projections covering the performers for the show's duration.
10:30 p.m. Openers Jogger wandered out, literally, seeming lost and/or bored, positioning themselves at a laptop and guitar. Pulsing, blurry visuals coated the duo as they played organic bits and pieces from the spare set-up, vocals intertwining every so often to create pretty harmonies that would immediately be engulfed in static beats and noodling guitar. Pretty, kaleidoscopic colors washed Jonathan Larroquette and Amir Yaghmai in warm oranges and reds, heads bobbing as the projections covered their faces and the floor-to-ceiling screen behind them. The set ended with "Nephicide," a bass jam that awakened the pair enough to give some hellos and goodbyes to the crowd.
11:40 p.m. With a view temporarily blocked by a teenage couple making out and a dude double-fisting beers and doing a "Mo Money Mo Problems"-era Diddy dance on his girlfriend, Chazwick Bundick was soon in sight, flanked by a drummer and bassist. Thankfully the trio was slightly more animated than Jogger, greeting the crowd warmly with smiles and small talk.
Live, Toro Y Moi's Causers of This collection became thee-dimensional, helped tremendously by a drummer, the layered-ness of his recordings sounding lifted and alive. The only downside was Bundick's voice, which wavered on songs like "Blessa," and was often lost to the jammy nature of the set. In fact, this instrumental cushioning created a live sound that was more of an interpretation of recordings like "Low Shoulder," versus a straight re-creation of Bundick's studio work. A mild highlight to a drab show, Toro Y Moi was thankfully put right in the middle to break up the heady monotony.
12:33 a.m. A man, a microphone and a laptop took the stage; a dark silent pause followed by a voice of the non-human variety blurting out "Nosaj Thing" as the sharp beats began to drop. Chung's neck dipped wildly from the collar of his button-up shirt, not-so-stunning visual pours of black and white slashing across the tiny figure. Between the burps of drone, Busta Rhymes' "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" made a brief appearance, standing out as the only discernible sample of the evening.
The waves of color kept eyes occupied, but even by almost 1 a.m., Chung's crowd seemed a little tired. But the sea of fitted hats warbled on, hands and cameras shaking in the air to movements of bass, the low-end gestures conducted from the laptop inciting howls for more. Like a Danny Elfman soundtrack, Nosaj Thing's sound walked the line between happy and terrifying, a virtually melody-less ride of glitchy bass taking over the Bluebird Theatre's sound system.
Around 1:20, Chung disappeared and the words "Fair Enough" flashed across the screen. After a few awkward and tense moments, he returned to his computer, put on the Warren G and Nate Dogg classic "Regulate" and walked back off stage.
It felt like a joke of the crowd-appeasing variety, but no one seemed to notice or care, dancing hippy girls taking over the balcony as the venue settled into a strange and hollow club scene. Chung's joke ended and he appeared for another few minutes of nauseous bass, ending a night of pure bored bliss.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I came with exactly zero expectations, and left with less than that. Random detail: As the couple in the bathroom stall next to me exited, the gentleman knocked on my stall door and said "She loved it." By The Way: This show was much bigger in attendance than I anticipated.
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