LA's Glitch Mob comprises three members -- DJs edIT, Boreta and Ooah (founding member Kraddy left last year) -- who use laptops and MIDI controllers to create the hip-hop influenced, bass-driven electro that keeps bodies movin' on dance floors all over the country. The act's unique blend of music is closer to electro-house than pretty much all of the DJs who claim to spin that genre, and the outfit absolutely tore up the Fillmore dance floor last night. To warm up the crowd, Beats Antique and Prefuse 73 took the stage.
Guillermo Catacubano's hip-hop project, Prefuse 73, had its ups and downs, starting off with some discordant, non-cohesive, spaced-out noises that didn't do much to showcase the group's skills, but this quickly melted into syncopated beats, wind chimes emerging from hard breaks and '70s funk samples.
Prefuse shone brightest when playing a sort of jazzy trip-hop reminiscent of DJ Shadow. Two sampling artists worked their electronic magic on stage while the talented drummer kept pace with slow, staggered beats, and then his bandmates might drop in bluesy guitar lines, organ-like keys and sighing melodies. There were a few fumbles here and there in the set, but it was mostly tight, and overall, Prefuse 73 made a good showing of it.
Beats Antique came on at 9:30 p.m., opening with sounds that wouldn't have been amiss in an old-timey cartoon set in a haunted house. Two skeletons came on stage to dance while David Satori and Sidecar Tommy Cappel played the drums and electronic drums, moving into breaky beats with old-school melodies while two more skeletons joined the two already on stage. One skeleton (Zoe Jakes, perhaps?) stayed on at the end of the song, picking up a drum and playing it while deep, distorted bass meandered with an anthem-y piano line, squealing sirens and the ever-insistent drums.
The Eastern-influenced beats and melodies continued with an electronic banjo played like a sitar, belly-dance drums and chimes. Bellydancer Elizabeth Strong joined Satori and Cappel on stage, exhibiting impressive hip-twitching to the wailing violin and steady drum noises. It was a more instrumental than electronic set; there was some sampling and manipulation taking place, but mostly the sounds were being created with live instruments.
Zoe Jakes emerged in the flesh, with antlers atop her head, and proceeded to exhibit her unique meld of hip-hop/bellydance, shimmying shoulders and hips in time with the beats. The dancers moved well with the songs, and toward the end of the set, a whole array of dancers with animal-themed masks moved onto the stage -- a horse head, chicken, deer, cow, turtle, frog, rabbit danced next to one another to close out the set
The Glitch Mob entered with tick-tock beats like a drumstick striking a wood block, before a warbling noise gradually overpowered the taps and samples declaring "Let the music defuse all the tension" and other hip-hop inspired snippets filled the room. The three members were on stage in white masks, holding drumsticks, and then the music dropped into dirty, distorted bass with meandering organ lines, live drums and hip-hop lyrics.
Like many of the best electronic acts, the Glitch Mob plays with sound, dropping in a rock-ballad-worthy electric guitar with a clapping beat, "put your hands up" samples and an overall anthemy feel with a marching-band beat. The group sampled heavily from TV on the Radio's "The Golden Age," distorting the tune and dropping in glitches here and there, appropriate to the name. "We've been all over the world, and it means so much to come back here," the outfit declared, before moving into a drum solo, followed by low, distorted beats.
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The group continued through the set, playing popular samples with escalating drums and synthesized keys, emerging in "costumes" of black shirts and white ties. The drum skills present were apparent, and random sounds -- like violin strings, meandering bass exploring the scales, plaintive sirens and deep, low synth sounds rising and falling.
The members tag-team effortlessly, often times working together in a seamless whole to create this futuristic, techno-driven electro that's bringing back the meaning of the sub-genre "electro house" in a world of DJs who often play edgy, distorted house and classify it thusly.
This was the opposite, pure electro with a touch of house to make it more danceable, and the crowd certainly responded, keeping the dance floor filled until it was time to shut the doors.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I was predisposed to love everything about this show. By the Way: Not as many people dressed up on this Sunday night as were donning costumes on Saturday. Random Detail: The lights used in the Glitch Mob set were understated but effective -- sometimes, in these cases, less really is more.