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Live Review and Photos: Flying Lotus and Thundercat, June 23, 2011, The Music Box – Los Angeles, CA

All Photos by Philip Cosores

My girlfriend and I arrived at The Music Box on Hollywood Boulevard a few minutes before eight. The line hadn’t rounded the corner yet, but small groups of people were coming out of the public parking areas around the venue. Everyone fidgeted in line, anxious to get inside to see the lineup Brainfeeder had concocted. The staff was quick at checking tickets, handing out wristbands and getting people through the doors.

Dr. Strangeloop played as people entered the venue around 8:30. Heavy basslines thumped out of the speakers, shaking not only the walls, but the floor as well. The Gaslamp Killer came out near the end of Strangeloop’s set to pump up the crowd. The audience cheered and shouted at the mere seconds the madman was onstage.

Teebs, another Brainfeeder regular, came out after Strangeloop finished his set at 9:10. There wasn’t the presence of heavy bass in Teebs’ set like there was in Strangeloop’s. Instead, he let lush, organic music flow over the crowd. Everyone seemed to be in a sort of side-shuffling trance and let the samples of harp wash over them for the half-hour that Teebs performed before Samiyam took to the stage. The Michigan musician had a more hip-hop oriented sound compared to the first two opening acts. He had the audience bobbing their heads to his beats and singing along with the rap vocals be mixed over the music.

While these first three performers got the crowd amped up, it was The Gaslamp Killer who unleashed hell on every pair of ears in the venue. The crowd flew into a frenzy when the first wah-drenched guitar notes of Black Sabbath’s “Electric Funeral” descended out of the speakers at 10:15. The samples continued from there and included a variety of bands and artists. One minute The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” was mellowing the crowd out, the next Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” created an army of headbangers. And he didn’t just keep the crowd entertained with his music, he himself kept them entertained. He danced around the stage with endless energy. He shook his head around, sending his mad-scientist hair flying. He jumped up on the barricade and pounded out notes through a MIDI pad controller app on his iPad.

“My face is stinging from sweat,” he shouted as his performance was coming to a close.

The Gaslamp Killer’s set ended at 11 to a roaring applause from the audience. The excitement and uproar the madman had caused didn’t subside when Thundercat and Austin Peralta stepped under the stage lights. The bass and keyboard duo’s jazz was nice, but seemed out of place in a crowd anxious to see Flying Lotus. I could hear the conversing crowd over the music at times, although the half hour set was an entertaining, relaxing break from all the digital bombardment.

Finally, as the clock struck 11:40, Flying Lotus stepped out to thunderous applause from the audience. From the moment the first beat dropped, the crowd was ecstatic. The bass shook the entire venue. It was the type of bass that you can feel in your chest, that shakes your entire body as if you were at the epicenter of an earthquake. He played “Zodiac Shit” as he took two hits of something that a roadie passed to him amidst the enormous cloud of weed smoke floating over the heads of the audience. A short time after that, he called out Thundercat and Austin Peralta to join him, as well as Carla Azar from Autolux to play the drum kit set up on the right side of the stage.

As if the music wasn’t already digital bliss, the addition of live bass, keys and drums sparked some kind of musical orgasm in the crowd. The dancing mob put in even more energy when “Kill Your Co-Workers” was worked into the set. At one point, Flying Lotus asked the crowd if they knew what DMT (the most powerful hallucinogen known to man) was. The collective proceeded to play Thundercat’s “DMT Song” and Flying Lotus’ “Do the Astral Plane” after FlyLo said he was going to give the audience a taste. As the psychedelic and cosmic vibrations made their way over the crowd, fractals played on the big screen behind the collective.

While it was clear that Flying Lotus was the leader of the collective, Thundercat, Peralta and Azar kept up with him. They were ready for every change of tempo, every bass drop, every rhythm change, everything! The audience kept up as well, until the show ended after one. But even then, there was this near indescribable hum, this euphoric vibe radiating off every person in attendance as they walked out into the early morning air. While it’s hard to say if everyone felt what I felt, I can say with certainty that the performance will not be forgotten.

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