Live Shots: Soulwax at the Independent

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Whether more or less true in other places, the crowds at shows in the Bay Area can be disappointingly savvy regarding encores. They know that if the band says goodnight and leaves the stage, the show is only possibly over. Or if recorded music comes over the speakers, the show is likely over. And (of course everyone knows) that when the house lights come on, the show is definitely over. It’s a convention that the bands and audience both understand, but robs everyone of some fun. Which was why it was wonderfully surprising that the majority of the people at the Independent Thursday night stuck around clapping, shouting, and making noise 'till it hurt in an attempt to get Soulwax to come back out on stage.

Didn’t happen. The staff of the club kept cranking the volume of the music louder, finally getting on the mic to announce that it was really over, everyone actually had to leave. Anyone that wants more will need to check out the Live 105 Subsonic Halloween Ball at the Regency Ballroom tonight, where the Dawaele brothers will be headlining as one of their many other aliases/projects, 2manydjs. Which may be confusing for anyone outside of Belgium, the UK, or Soulwax’s extremely dedicated fan base.

Essentially, what the folks at the show on Thursday (many of whom seemed to have traveled to be there and may have paid hefty sum to the scalpers outside) got was Soulwax, the four-part electronic rock band, which is a bit of an oddity in that its last conventional album was 2004’s Any Minute Now. Nonetheless it's continued to tour and perform the earlier material, reworking and tightening it up. Which basically means that as a group, Soulwax has its act down: matching suits, tons of strobes to go with them, and the music, a no-nonsense succession of synthed out, percussive tracks that go from brooding to funky to electro without ever stopping. (Maybe part of the reason that people wanted an encore so bad – shortly after a screaming sing-along rendition of “NY Excuse” – was that without the breaks the ending just snuck up on them.) When I say they don’t stop, I mean it; for a band, Soulwax transitions seamlessly, with the skill of great DJs.

Which the Dawaele brothers are, primarily under that other name: 2manydjs. That’s been their focus the last couple of years, culminating in the creation of Radio Soulwax, an ongoing collection of 24-hour long theme mixes available online, accompanied by some pretty crafty visuals created from the sampled album covers. (I’ve found listening to it to be a great way to power through the work day, assuming 5 Hour Energy, coffee, or cocaine doesn’t work for you.) As Soulwax, the band put on a hell of a show--supported by Goose, a group that understands everyone can switch from keyboards to guitars as much as they want, provided that the drummer kicks hard and lays down some tommy gun fills--but 2manydjs may be able to top it. According to an avowed fan I talked to last night (the kind that has the white label vinyl and wears black glasses without lenses--hopefully as an early Halloween costume,) 2manydjs is the “real deal.” Somehow, as an encore, it might be the rare case where the DJ set is better than the band.

Live 105’s 3rd Annual Subsonic Halloween Ball
With 2manydjs, Fake Blood, Bag Raiders, Classixx, Tenderlions, Aaron Axelson, and more
Mon/31, 5:45 p.m., $25-$90
Regency Ballroom
1300 Van Ness, SF
(800) 745-3000
www.theregencyballroom.com