Fans of intentionally reclusive rock group Black Moth Super Rainbow had the opportunity to catch the Pittsburgh, Pa.-based band at 1015 Folsom on Friday. The code-named members initially struggled in the performance, partly distracted by projector technical difficulties, but also trying to overcome an awkward lineup.
The best shows I’ve seen at at 1015 and conjoined sister club 103 Harriet have made good use of the main room’s set-up, alternating between the stage on one side of the room and the DJ booth on the other, keeping the wait time between acts to a minimum. That sort of seamless club flow is pretty essential for jockeys and electronic acts, but not always possible with bands. Since the lineup for the night was mixed and the booth may have been needed for sound engineers, a little lag for set-up was forgivable.*
But what wasn’t so forgivable, was the placement of Zackey Force Funk. Splitting time between tuning up tracks on his laptop and emcee-ing, ZFF’s performance went down like sitting on a friend’s couch while they share their latest iTunes downloads – Flying Lotus, Lazer Sword, Jonwanye – and proceed to mime along and drink Heineken.
If it has a place, it’s as an extremely chill warm-up or as part of a larger group, but not following two bands like Pictorials and Lumerians. Especially since the latter – with a percussive kineticism and vibrant psych tint – could have been a fine lead in to the main act.
As its set progressed, BMSR, with a somewhat lackadaisical air, built gradually into a rhythm. It never strayed too far from subdued, vocoded vocals against consistent, slow crashing beats, peaking on the oddly inviting “Sun Lips” from Dandelion Gum.
It seemed to do the job for the crowd, manifesting in extremely calm mosh pits and a few stage divers, one of whom – ouch – went straight to the floor. (Remember to look before you leap.)
I’d been curious what Gramatik would do to close out the night. The producer’s latest EP on Pretty Lights Music, #digitalfreedom, features an expansive sound, complete with forays into Bassnectar-like ADHD beats, but nothing that I imagined gelling with BMSR.
There was little sense of urgency, but Gramatik, accompanied by a guitarist, seemed to essentially disregard what came before, getting into a hard set that was light on overused drops and heavy on soul hooks. It was probably the best plan. The crowd had thinned between sets, and the bar was closed by that point, but as the set went on, the dancers, who may have been waiting all along, trickled back into the main room.
*No machine is 100% efficient, but some of the heat, otherwise lost, can still be used to do work.
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