The Blind Pig is generally a fairly correct representation of my worst nightmare. It’s smokey, smelly, and inappropriately dark. The music is too loud and poorly mixed. The crowd is impolite and pushy. It’s always a cool-but-what-if-we-had-a-better-venue experience.
So, Friday night at the Blind Pig, I was very pleasantly surprised. The room was transformed for the Ann Arbor Film Fest and Dark Matter’s presentation of Flying Lotus. The walls were lined with bed sheets and they hung from the ceiling. There were projections from the sides of the room with multiple digital projectors at once. And, there was a beautiful, old 16mm projector perched above the sound board in the back of the room. I watched the opening act, Mahjongg, from the back and I could hear the faint clicking of the projector colliding with the rock and roll on the stage. Though my family never played 16mm films (update! Obviously not 9mm…that would be pretty heavy hitting), I very strongly associate the 16mm clicking sound with home movies and family reunions. I picture Franklin Delano Roosevelt at his vacation home, sipping lemonade.
I would have had a difficult time seeing Flying Lotus sipping lemonade on a lawn chair last week at the Blind Pig. The sold-out crowd went nuts every time he changed tracks. The Flying Lotus albums are not terribly danceable. The tracks are often a-rhythmic and too weird to move to. The live set, however, was radically different. He added a heavy beat and a strong dub-step influence to keep the audience, at least, bobbing heads the whole time. At times, the gross dude in front of me’s hair was too close to my face to do anything but nod my head and back away. At other times, the whole dance floor was moving together. He mixed popular tracks from Radiohead (see video below) and Lil’ Wayne into the heavy electronic music he is known for.
I am generally unimpressed by electronic DJ performances. I have trouble seeing the artistry in playing on a computer. From the floor, it usually looks like the artist is just choosing the next song from his iTunes catalog. Flying Lotus, however, put on a show. He fed off the crowd’s energy, danced around, poked fun at the ‘bored’ girl in the front row, and, more generally, seemed fully in control of the Blind Pig atmosphere.
Unfortunately, the Film Festival continues to have a problem attracting a diverse audience. The only diversity was in the range of cool kids wearing seemingly expensive outfits to the cool kids wearing seemingly thrifty outfits. Some were old enough to wear ear plugs. Most weren’t. This audience make up is most disappointing because the show really had incredible crossover appeal. If you got into the show, you were going to dance.
My apologies that the review is a bit late. Because it is a bit late though, the good people over at Mood Gadget have posted a high video quality, solid sound quality video of Flying Lotus’ mix of Radiohead’s Idioteque. Check it out below (there is also an HD version on their YouTube site)
Also, review of ‘An Evening With Kenneth Anger’ at the Ann Arbor Film Festival- coming soon.