Review: EOTO at Fillmore Auditorium, 12/7/13

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EOTO at FILLMORE AUDITORIUM | 12/7/13 When Jason Hann sang the opening line of "In The Air Tonight" by Phil Collins towards the end of EOTO's set, it seemed more appropriate than cheesy. Also a singing drummer, Hann offered a heavier dub take of the song, rather than the pounding tom fill and more conventional synths that mark the original. Even the bass drop used here was more smoothed out than usual, which made this rendition seem more moody and atmospheric. EOTO is good at taking the familiar and making it weird and interesting enough with subtle changes to a core sound.

See also: EOTO's Jason Hann on the time Dr. Dre asked him to smoke a four-foot bong in the studio

With lotus leaf projection screens in front of both Hann and Michael Travis and behind them, EOTO made extensive use of creative video mapping to turn the whole show into a perpetually shifting and evolving audio-visual experience. The richness of the visuals, both in colors, textures and in the myriad applications of the twin banks of lasers, matched the diverse layers of the music, from scaly eyes opening and closing to a giant mouth with teeth opening and closing to a psychedelically-colored vehicle flying through space like something out of the Rig Veda or Mahabharata.

EOTO got funky at one point in the show, but the transitions between "songs" was so seamless that it often it seemed like a movement with no formal breaks. The momentum never really dropped throughout the show; Hann played without much of a break for the better part of two hours, while Travis switched instruments and tasks throughout the show. When the duo created builds, it was always swimming in some kind of melody in the higher registers, and that was the focus as much as the bass drop, like countervailing forces coming together to create something stronger.

The show opened with a duo called Desert Dwellers, who offered up a set of soul-flavored downtempo with elements of trance's fluid, textured atmospherics. The sampled vocals sounded like something out of an R&B song recontextualized. In certain ways, the act's sound recalled a more chilled out version of the Orb. The Dwellers' transitions were smooth, and the final section of its set had a fantastic build that seemed to create a sound like attaining some kind of existential peak, reaching a psychological vista and surveying a windswept bigger picture perspective.

Quixotic Fusion was up next. Part violin-led, the act delivered a set of Middle Eastern-tonality-inflected EDM. The first half of the set had a gauze-like projection screen at the front of the stage with the violin player. As various images played with swirls of color, the images enhanced the movements of the female dancers who took the stage and engaged in complex, stylized modern dance.

Even the violin player, in the beginning, was part of this alchemy of audio-visual stimulation. When the screen went down mid-set, the dancers came back on and did aerobatic feats that made you wonder exactly how strong these women were because it sure took a lot of muscle control to pull off those stunts, especially when one of the dancers/aerobatic artists hung upside down and spun rapidly in place with perfect grace and control.

Dirtyphonics from France was up next, and without any of the visuals that came before and after its set, the group seemed kind of lacking in color. But the two guys were incredibly enthusiastic, and even if you weren't exactly blown away by their originality, they brought a lot of energy to their performance. Later in the set, the guys re-purposed the theme to 28 Days Later and Halloween in an interesting way, and also gave "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes a dubstep makeover.


Personal Bias: I like EOTO's take on dubstep and electronic music, in general. Random Detail: Brian Eno's debut solo album, Here Come The Warm Jets, was played before the show and in between sets. Nice choice. By the Way: Smoking is still not cool inside a music venue unless you're on stage.

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