San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Juan MacLean Rewrites the Manual

Just got back from seeing The Juan Maclean in Los Angeles.  I have to say that overall it was pretty amazing.  At their worst, this group highlighted just how hard it is to perform electronic music live.  At their best, they blew the doors off the place.  I thought the girl from The Octopus Project played a mean theramin, but she's got nothing on Juan.  He was like a symphony conductor with that thing.

They opened with a song from their upcoming album The Future Will Come, available "In a month that's not this one."  I'm not sure if that means next month or just some month in the future.  Hopefully it's coming out soon, because the first song, and many of the other new ones, sound very promising.  Wikipedia says 2009 but who knows.

After the second song of the set, a familiar spectre revisited the band.  Massive technical difficulties.  This time, instead of delaying the start of the show, it stopped it.  The band gathered around a malfunctioning device for about five minutes while the small but dedicated crowd heckled the band.  Juan responded by being totally transparent.

"We're going to do something now that's really embarassing," he began, "we're going to have to pull out the manual," he finished, holding up the user guide for the synthesizer.  The crowd laughed.  It felt like the crowd was made almost exclusively of true fans and people who genuinely understood how difficult it is to do electronic music live.

It takes Nancy Whang, Holy Ghost! and Juan MacLean to technically support an ailing device necessary to perform Give Me Every Little Thing 20080913 - The El Rey, Los Angeles, CA

When they finally got the thing going, the crowd came back in full force.  Though their biggest track was a little rough, it showed great tenacity for the band to come back from such a long break at the beginning of the set.

There were some great moments and some not-so-great moments during most of the rest of the set.  When Juan announced that the band had only one more song to play, "but don't worry", I looked at my watch. The band had only been playing for about 50 minutes, and I wondered if they could possibly have an encore planned.  Nope.  I have no idea what the last track was, but it was an 18-minute multi-orgasmic opus that started minimal, built to a climax, exploded, went back to climax level, and repeated the pattern over and over.

Juan admitted that it wasn't a perfect performance, but we don't go see The Juan MacLean for perfection.  We go see this act because, as one girl at Coachella put it, "We wanna dance."  

And dance we did.

The Juan MacLean plays The Casbah in San Diego this Monday night.  Don't be stupid.  Check it out.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Antony and the Johnsons To Play Walt Disney Concert Hall 2008-10-16

The first time I heard I Am A Bird Now, the most recent release from Antony and the Johnsons, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it.  Here's a guy with an almost angelic voice, race car driver-like control of trills and a torch song range reminiscent of Nina Simone, but I couldn't see it.  Not on the first listen.

Still, I was intrigued enough to listen again.  And fairly quickly, again, and again, and again.

It's puzzling to me now, when I can't listen to songs like Hope There's Someone without tearing up, that I didn't get it the first time I heard it.  But I knew there was something there, and that kept me listening.  His voice absolutely destroys me, makes me hurt in the pit of my stomach as if I'm actively experiencing what he's singing about.

The act has an album due Oct 7, 2008, so it's strange that this tour is so truncated.  Using the business model of Radiohead's Kid A tour, there are two dates.  One in New York, and one in LA.

If you're up for something truly unique, please, please, please catch this show.