San Francisco's Dubtribe Sound System fall between the hippy side of the rave scene and the deep end of the house scene, a combo that brought a colourful mix of partiers out to Steam Whistle Brewing Friday night for the duo's farewell tour. Glammed-up clubbers rubbed shoulders with dreadlocked hippies, while Dubtribe's Sunshine and Moonbeam Jones manipulated their gear on a rug, surrounded by dancing bodies and invisible to all but the front row.
For a pair with a reputation for extended live shows, it was surprising to see how minimal their equipment was. Two CD turntables provided the beats, a mixing board and some effects provided the dub, and both Joneses provided the vocals, which they tweaked out into cascades of echoes.
The nature of the room at Steam Whistle means it's impossible to get it sounding tight, but in this case the boomy reverb suited the music. Some of the older tunes sounded a bit dated, and some of the idealist preaching was over the top, but it was a genuinely emotionally engaging electronic performance, which is a rare occurrence. Although most in the crowd couldn't see them, the couple stayed connected enough with the audience to get a loud response.
Wood gathers no moss
Over the last couple of weeks, bars have been swarmed because of whispers of a possible visit from a Rolling Stone , but most of the rumours have turned out to be false.
At least one Stone has been getting out and about, though. Ron Wood was the Beaconsfield's unexpected guest of honour at the July 20 debut of Slow Teenage Dance Party , a new monthly event focusing on slow jams of the 80s and early 90s. The event itself already had all the local hipsters out - most of them too shy to talk to Wood - but since news of a Rolling Stone in public travels fast, the bar was rammed with atypical revellers.
The party was hilarious. The crowd sang along to cheesy ballads while happily sloppy friends attempted to slow dance in the middle of the crush. Wood looked like he was having a great time, chatting up the bartenders and shaking hands with fans. Apparently, he also made nice with locals at Habitat a few days later.
Stopped by Andy Poolhall Saturday night, where Jeremy Ellis and John Arnold performed live on samplers, keys and guitar. When they say "live," they mean it - Ellis's fingers were a blur as he tapped out fluid, complex breaks on his MPC, stopping only to loop a section before switching over to his keyboard and mic. Arnold isn't quite as flashy when it comes to his sampler-triggering, but he freaks out the audience in a different way when he picks up his acoustic guitar and uses it to play a jazzy electric piano solo or a synth bass part (using a pickup on the guitar that controls his electronics).
It's fun to watch musicians tackle electronic music hands-on to emulate what'd normally take days to sequence. The only downside is that it distracts the audience from dancing, because you don't want to miss anything.