the point of cmj is, basically, to hear music from bands whose names you recognize, but don't actually know anything about. such was the case at the apple store earlier today, when i went down to check out simian mobile disco. their name has been plastered everywhere as progenitors of a "new" dance music, so i was eager to check them out. plus, the apple store has super comfy chairs.
my rather relaxed cmj had been quite good, with lots of new discoveries (le loup, liam finn, yeasayer), but sadly, simian mobile disco neither shocked nor awed me. their beats seemed rather basic, especially considering the sweet assload of gear they had on stage. with all that electronic hoopla, surely they could've come up with some better sounds. they used only a few samples (one was ninja singing "the fantastic is the romantic; the romantic is the fantasic"), and resorted far too frequently to that dance music standby of letting the music trail off, waiting a beat, and then coming back in loudly. also, i caught myself yawning widely a few times, but that could've been the comfy chairs.
simian mobile disco did have some cool shit going on, but, unfortunately, it mostly had to do with their set. first of all, the lights. smd's eight freestanding LED blasters have become something of a trademark and are pretty cool, though they were so painfully bright that i was extremely thankful not to be in the front row. i have personal beef with LED lights, and find them very unflattering. the colors are always tinged with a really unnatural tint, and they don't illuminate people very well. that being said, smd's blasters were pointed at the audience, so it didn't affect them all that much. the second supercool thing about simian mobile disco's setup was the round table they used. all of their gadgets were arranged around its edge, eliminating any sense of exclusivity. both band members, james ford and james shaw, played everything on the table, despite ford's arm sling. there was a really tangible sense of fluidity in their performance, and it was fun to watch them scurry around the table, pressing buttons, flicking switches, and putting wires in sockets.
the music, though, is what counts, and it didn't excite me, to say the least. the ordinary beats, the typical crescendos; simian mobile disco's performance really confirms my hidden belief that most dance music isn't really good music, it's just fun to jump around to. the sad thing about simian mobile disco's set was that it didn't even make me want to dance.
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