I can’t dance. Usually this isn’t a problem. At most shows I go to, try anything more than a head bob, and the rest of the crowd is embarrassed for you. But it’s hard to hide my self-consciousness at electronic shows like this. As everyone loses it on the dance floor, I cosy up to the bar; the drink in my hand is my excuse for the cement in my shoes.

103 Harriet
San Francisco, CA
2011 – 03/25

Com Truise

I bob my head and my mind begins to wander. I think if I were ever trapped in one of those cheesy/awesome ’80s action movies, where I’ve got to sneak into the bad guy’s chemical plant/computer silo under cover of night to recover the secret formula/stolen data and stop the evil terrorist plot/save the damsel in distress, I’d want Com Truise to create the soundtrack.That might sound strange until you listen to “Cyanide Sisters” or “Slow Peels.” The music is rife with ’80s awesomeness. Listening to Com Truise is like watching a washed-out VHS of Blade Runner as directed by John Hughes; it’s got a serious edge, but pop sensibilities. It was the New Jersey producer’s first show in SF, and he was the odd man out on a bill comprised of more pyrotechnic and energy producers. As much as the crowd dug Com Truise’s nostalgic glo-fi, you could tell that many were eagerly waiting for Gold Panda.

(Note: You can download Com Truise’s Cyanide Sisters EP here: http://comtruise.com/2010/07/cyanide-sisters-ep-2/)

Gold Panda

Soon enough, Gold Panda took the stage. After a slew of EPs and high-profile remixes of Bloc Party, HEALTH, and others, the 30-year-old east Londoner released his debut LP, Lucky Shiner, in October of last year. Labeling music is always a bit tricky. It’s dangerously easy to pigeonhole an artist or get lost with genres that confuse more than they classify, so I’ll let NME do my dirty work; the UK music mag pegs Gold Panda’s sound as “somewhere between minimal house, ethno techno, eclectic turntablism and spun-silver electronica.” Right. So if those words mean anything to you, congrats. But if you’re as lost as I am, let me simplify: Gold Panda’s music is good. Very good. Sonically lush, it blends drums, synths, guitars, strings, chimes, glockenspiels, vibraphones and pitched-up vocals into something beautiful. Everything is, of course, processed, distorted and glitched-out on an Akai MPC2000XL sampler. “You” gives you a taste of Gold Panda’s signature sound: sliced samples (here, a pitched-up vocal) pulse out in short rhythmic bursts over warm synths and organic drums.

Listen to “You” – DOWNLOAD MP3

Maybe he’s like me, I think –– overly self-conscious, I mean. The FADER labeled him as a “misanthrope” and “curmudgeon.” But it’s good to be strange, right? To go from making music in the privacy of your bedroom to traveling around the world to play for crowds of strangers is difficult. In a mini-documentary from his label, Ghostly International, Gold Panda talked about this, saying, “Music is a very private thing for me; to make it public is quite difficult. I never intended to play live and being a solo artist is quite lonely… I don’t have a lot of confidence in myself.” Onstage though, he was all energy — nervous and frantic energy, but energy nonetheless. He rocked his head violently back and forth and lifted his hands dramatically to pound the MPC. I thought he might crack his head on the table as he sprung up and down to tweak effects pedals at his feet. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that electronic musicians have it easy playing from laptops; the dude was working up a sweat. People loved it all and went nuts over favorites like “Marriage” and “Quitter’s Raga.” He worked the crowd into such a frenzy that they almost turned on him when his laptop came unplugged during “Snow & Taxis.” The momentary silence was enough to elicit boos from most of the crowd. So fickle, this bunch! Panda made a quick recovery though, the music was back on and the crowd was back on his side.

If Gold Panda can set aside his self-consciousness to have a good time and enjoy the music, I figure, why can’t I? I abandon my Anchor Steam and drift onto the dance floor. Self-consciousness be hanged; these tunes are just too good.

“I don’t have a lot of confidence,” he says again in that interview, “I never say to people, ‘I made an amazing track yesterday, you gotta hear it.'”

But that sort of bravado isn’t necessary. The music is fantastic and the crowd knows it.

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