It was four twenty week in the Emerald Trinity, and residents of our tiny social niche in the North Coast celebrated heartily, with a week long string of shows and events paying homage to the Ganja Gods. Like an overdue tsunami triggered by the San Andreas fault off shore, a wave of LSD hit the area, and not a moment too soon. The heady Humboldt community went into stockpile mode, because you never can tell when our friend Lucy will be back in our forests, on our beaches, in our music venues and after parties, opening our hearts and our mind’s eye.
Arriving early at the Arcata Theatre Lounge allowed me to soak in the blank canvas and imagine how the dynamics would soon change. Walking around the near empty venue, studying the instruments and hardware, I thought back to my high school football days, when I would arrive early to the playing field to walk the gridiron alone and mentally prepare myself. But tonight, it was not war I was preparing for. In that moment alone on the dance floor, I was preparing myself for an audio and visual experience from a legend who I have never had the opportunity to experience live, and the moments leading up to Ott‘s late start were filled with anticipation and wonder of what was to come.
Ott‘s set lasted under an hour, but was packed with some mind expanding sounds that filled the theatre with a mystical energy. At it’s peak, his music incorporated organic bass lines with pounding house drums and a touch of a wild jungle sacrifice, which had the whole place dancing. In these valleys of sound Ott manipulated his more psychedelic and trancy melodies, bending and warping them in a way which allowed the music to enter each ear and meet pleasantly in between, causing the audience to sway while absorbing the magnificent lighting and visuals. With facial expressions that reminded me of fellow brit Alfred Hitchcock, Ott calmly tickled his gear and tapped on his KP3, applying live effects to specifically chosen notes. (This versatile FX pad by Korg is used in live sets by acts such as EOTO, David Starfire, the Flying Skulls, Radiohead and the Hardware Heroes, to name a few.) With tracks such as the remix of Shpongle‘s “Around the World in a Tea Daze”, the mysterious nature of his music was a great way for Humboldt to get into the right state of mind for next week’s Simon Posford DJ Set. Although a little short, Ott‘s set was on point and delivered exactly what I was looking for that evening.
A ginormous pulsating eyeball filled the Arcata Theater Lounge’s enormous screen, along with live art, installations and lighting accented the evening’s lineup perfectly (complements of World Famous Productions). At times, the image gave the illusion that the optic nerves trailing from behind the orb slithered like the body of a snake, giving the eye its means of transportation around the silver screen as it would grow, change color and transform. The visual effects ended up being the most impressive part of the evening. Andrew \”Android\” Jones had incredible control over the origin and directions of the twisted serpentine, which reminded me of the old computer game “Pipe Dream” through the eyes of Tim Burton and Salvador Dali. The most spectacular part of the evening occurred between Ott and Satori Social, with a surprise 15 minute dance performance that paired this incredible technology with absolutely mind blowing bodily maneuvers. Phaedra Ana, who pairs with Jones to form “Phadroid,” donned a regalia of flowing silken robes, light as air and the same color as the screen. The music she danced with varied in style, with heavy and mechanical womps punctuating extended periods of ambient melodies. With her back to the screen, the perfect arrangements of lights from the house projector allowed for her to disappear and reappear in the images, acrobatically moving with divine fluidity. For the second part of her performance, Phaedra conjured an acrylic contact ball from her robes and manipulated it in a way that had me convinced Newton’s laws did not apply on stage that night. With the now packed house standing perfectly still in amazement (including the staff and Ott himself), the power of the duo’s captivating live art was undeniable. As Bluetech and his band took the stage, the theatre was buzzing about what was just witnessed; without a doubt, one of the most impressive displays of visual effects I’ve ever experienced.
Satori Social added a totally different vibe to the evening, which could account for the generally different and older crowd that had come for the show. I’ve seen the band perform before at Earthdance ’09, and knowing what to expect, I honestly was there for 15 bucks that night for Ott. Not to say that Satori‘s members aren’t all extremely talented, and they maintained a solid rhythm throughout the entire performance, but my taste in music requires a little more action and a heavier beat. Just as you’d expect that hard Bluetech dub style bass drop to happen, it never would. Their music is like traveling in a psychedelic elevator; salsa style rhythms and live brass by multi-talented Russel Scott, and lounge style powerful vocals from leading lady Katrina Blackstone, but they left me wondering where the elevator was going. The jams I liked most happened when percussionist Jason “Cedar” Miller would really experiment and improvise on his hand drums, smiling ear to ear. At one point, he moved a large hand drum to center stage to accompany one of the many dance routines by Savitri Delfia, who looked like a gypsy temptress with the power to lure drunken men into back alleys and dives. Bluetech himself jammed along on the keyboards and synths, while running the live mix through Ableton. He seemed a lot more charismatic than when I saw his DJ set in January. He seemed to be having a great time. The crowd, although sometimes merely swaying to the melodies, never stopped moving during Satori Social‘s set.
Evan Marc, who was outside selling CD’s after the show, said Satori Social was his main focus right now, and was not currently working on any Evan Marc stuff (his tech house/minimal solo project, which I like best). On his Facebook page, however, he did say that he is currently working with Jamie Killowat on a project called “Invisible Allies.” If you know about Bluetech and Killowat, you should stay tuned to LiS, because that stuff is bound to be down with the sound we love.
This is D~R Dyaphonoyze signing off, reminding you to keep an open mind and always try to experience new music and new people, and make sure to keep checking LostinSound.org for more of the music you love.