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mira calix/nobukazu takemura/plaid - cleveland (mar. 2002)
posted on 25-Apr-2002 by anton
I have missed a few chances to see plaid last year, and finally there was an opportunity to catch them in cleveland this march. I have been frequenting smaller shows for past year, so seeing a huge tour bus parked in front of the venue, overpriced disks and t-shirts was a definitely a sign of a bigger fish.

I have missed a few chances to see plaid last year, and finally there was an opportunity to catch them in cleveland this march. I have been frequenting smaller shows for past year, so seeing a huge tour bus parked in front of the venue, overpriced disks and t-shirts was a definitely a sign of a bigger fish.

the venue itself actually had a proper stage (covered with various equipment) and even a curtain to complete the atmosphere.

it was around 9pm when we walked in, and mira calix was on stage already constructing some noisy beatless sound collages crouched behind the decks. gradually she started transitioning to more rhythmic stuff, and although I *almost* placed a few tracks (they sounded very familiar, stylistically, but not 100% dead-on recognizable, something very autechre-like, something very markant-like (early markant vinyl?), something very early dub-like, something that could have been richard divine or some stuff on schematic, and one track that sounded like abfahrt hinwil); the only track I could recognize was autophonic off "nummer drei" compilation.

she was doing a great job, transforming the originals; judging by what she has done to the only track I knew, she sped it up a bit, overlaid it with swirling crunchy little noises, cut it up and generally altered it a lot. it was the first time I heard this kind of music (not splintery annoying idm, but this full-weight, heavy and energetic stuff) this loud (I could literally feel the music with the hair on my head), this clear and with a few hundred people around me that did not frown or attempt to run away. overall, the second part of her set was simply excellent, I was just sitting there, completely soaked in music, with sound all around me.

after a while nobukazu takemura took his place behind a laptop adorned with a usual glowing apple. his set started out with swirling layered cacophony, and for a moment I was afraid that this would be all of it. fortunately, he switched to high-bpm heavy "robotic pop" with a lot of childish melodies and overall feel that could have been attributed to tigerbeat6 or something bogdan raczynski could have done.

bouncy tight drum&bass/idm beats, swirling analog videogame noises and processed very catchy "robotic" vocals were accompanied by quite fitting stop motion clay animation with silly charming characters. altogether it was a great set with very warm and unique retro feel, playful and energetic. I looked around while he played and saw quite a few people moving around, or just smiling and nodding along with the music, needless to say, a very positive response.

finally, after a short break, during which mira calix re-appeared on stage, both members of plaid emerged behind their equipment and kicked things off with some well-known material and absolutely amazing visuals.

overall the material played was presented as a sequence of tracks from older albums and latest ep, each one accompanied by a separate visual piece. out of all the shows I have been to this was the most well thought-out, the most fitting visual accompaniment. the imagery did not distract from the music, they did not take you away in a separate realm, rather they enhanced and deepened the atmosphere created by each track, offering a unique visual interpretation. specifically prepared for each track, ranging from urban hyper-kinetic landscapes to abstract constructions and sentimental images.

they had a small robot installed in front of their decks/laptops controlled by "someone/something" that would project images from its videocameras on to the main screen; pure geeky fun, watching few interlocked, collaged real-time images of their hands twiddling knobs and moving sliders. at one point they managed to make this robot (essentially a big "arm") do some sort of one-legged robotic dance, twitching and moving with the music, at the same time projecting the images onto the huge screen.

plaid's set was a lot more energetic than I expected it to be; very beat-driven, very layered and *very* fast. I do have to admit I craved for more sweet melodies, less dominant drive, but if you listen to their latest ep, you would notice that this seems to be a slight change in direction - more disjointed, more layered, more energetic, and yet still sprinkled with simple catchy harmonies and wonderful analog touch.

there were a few people sitting by the stage and nodding along (after all it was 4 hours of non-stop hard-hitting idm), but most of them were still alert and responsive with a few very comic characters dancing around.

the audience even managed to get an encore from plaid after a few minutes of non-stop applause and practically swept clean the whole merchandise desk afterwards.

seeing shows like these makes you understand that low-quality "alternativeness" is not the only thing, one can still be somewhat obscure and yet deliver very professional, high-quality performance. I have always liked smaller shows because of their very personal atmosphere, but shows this particular event seemed to strike a balance between cozy intimacy and inevitable elitism of the genre and professionalism that comes with years of experience and ability to bring in required funds.

picture gallery
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nobukazu takemura/mira calix/plaid
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photographs © 2002 by alan mcclelland

related links
plaid website
warp records website
mira calix website
nobukazu takemura page on thrill jockey
plaid "p-brane" review

 
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