There was a 15 minute break on the main stage while they removed all Thundercat’s gear out of the way. I had positioned my self at front center for this precise moment.

If your reading my blog and don’t know who Flying Lotus is and consider yourself at the cutting edge of music, I apologize while I assure you that you are not.

Head of the now infamous Brainfeeder record label, Flying Lotus has totally revolutionized the modern hip-hop and glitch hop scene, or as I call it, the Beat scene.

Hailing from California he has injected new life into a genre overshadowed by bro-step wannabe dub-steppers.

Well known for his creativity, originality and intricacy (in the rhythmic department most notably) he became a beacon for those sick and tired of all the shiny, overly safe crap music that surrounds us on a daily basis. And to think he comes from a place where Hollywood isn’t a movie, its a lifestyle!

 

 

I nearly shat myself when I saw the monitor speakers they had setup for him at each side of his DJ table, I’ve been to club parties where they have a whole party running off of speakers half the size! As it was a live set, he had his Akai MPD and Laptop setup into a Dj mixer. I was totally excited for this show, evidently so were the people around me, as the crowd seemed to double while waiting to be fed.

And on he came, to a fully packed outdoor dancefloor, sunglasses still on and smiling. His first songs, were not impressive for me, people were jamming around me, but to me it was pretty ordinary (think crunk with a little more detail in the drum sequencing). I kept waiting for something to grab me by the back of the neck and say dance… but nothing.

Smiles all round!

 

 

Paparazzi vibes.

It was around a quarter way through the set when the sound cut out, the crowd shouted their support as he walked off stage immediately. His tech walked on and fiddled around, I suspect his computer crashed cause they were waiting and looking at the screen for sometime… LOL, mac’s do crash you know ;)

Fly Lo’s stage Tech hyping the crowd waiting for the Laptop to reboot.

He got back up and running, switching the vibe a bit to something more groovy and swinging, more like what I wanted to hear, more like the sound I knew him for… As time passed though I started getting bored, and the front row was getting crowded so I moved to the middle section as he switched through some classic hip-hop tracks, even a bit of Radiohead!! Respect for that but It was too late for me, I went to get my first beer and food of the day.

All in all, quite disappointing, not at all like the stuff I’ve seen him play live on youtube clips or heard in his records, the sound wasn’t that great as well, was quite soft! Look in fairness, I wanted to hear his crazy experimental stuff, so I really didn’t think he would play it so safe. Its very understandable tho… People were loving what he was playing, no doubt! But you know what they say about hype and how it makes certain people crazy! Well it does the opposite for me…

*added notes: I was totally shocked how expensive a beer was there, €4 for a tiny fucking beer? Insane to say the least, its €1 for a beer triple the size in a shop, at least the food was good!

To be Continued in Part 4….

Rushing towards the outdoor stage from a nearing overcrowded underground section, up the suspect staircase through the sweaty people and by now glowing (with sweat of course) girls in skimpy clothing to see Thundercat live had me out of breath.

He had already been playing for about 30-40mins or so and I probably missed my fave song, I thought, but I was stoked regardless!

This is a man who has played on stage and in studio with some of the most legendary musicians, Erykah Badu for one!

As his first major gig he also replaced Robert Trujillo, one of the meanest bassists alive, when he joined Metallica after Jason Newstead quit.

That alone is no small feat, Trujillo is an absolute MACHINE!!!!

I wasn’t quite prepared for what I heard when I got to the front row to watch him play because I haven’t even heard all his music (I’m totally guilty of putting 2 or 3 songs of his on and listening to them over and over and over!!!).

I don’t pirate new music btw ;)

Anyway, him and his fantastically tight 3 piece band were doing a really chilled lullaby like piece, super smooth, had all the girls swaying and shit. Was a great intro to the show for me. I’m still not quite used to hearing such deep and soulful music at a major festival while being surrounded by so many young people fully enjoying the vibes! The amount of soul per minute (never mind beats per minute) was staggering!

They kept the smooth sounds flowing for some time, clearly building down from what I imagine was a funk fuelled performance, there was weed in the air, the sun was at that position where everything is just perfect. I looked to my left while taking a few crowd shots on my camera and could see a guy who clearly knew all the words, singing along with his eyes closed. The atmosphere was beautiful!

Might I add that the sound was fucking golden!! You could hear Thundercat on bass perfectly clear! Super warm sounds, and when he pressed his foot pedal to turn on the flange effect the mode shifted along with it, reminiscent of the 60’s psychedelic sound that clearly influences his funk soul fusion.

And the drums!!!

The bass drum was perfectly fat! Booming yet punchy with each kick, the snare while not as warm and 70’s sounding as his records (obviously) was still low and punchy, but with one heck of a crack! I remember one of the front of house engineers looking over to his co-worker and pulling one of those “damn listen to the sound of that kit!” faces. The keyboardist clearly had the best seat (and job) in the house, he was coasting! Switching from an original Fender Rhodes electric piano to synth, organ and piano with ease!

After a few words to the audience they burst into action, this was where things really heated up, they were on a mission! The drummers pace had shifted up dramatically as the bassline switched from a cool breeze to a thunderstorm! Someone obviously hit the jam button!!! And fuck me it was incredible, the bpm was nearing 150 (atleast, im not the best gauge of tempo) but it was hella fast for the jazzed up funk they were playing!

There was a constant stream of double time running bass notes, litterally one massive bass face as Thundercats expression, the drummer looked like he was trying to push out a grapefruit from his.. yeh, it was that intense!

Being a real fan of intricate drum rhythms I was totally enthralled as the drum patterns suddenly shifted to a fuck off hard to play rhythm, you could hear it was a spur of the moment choice, you could also hear that the drummer was pushing himself to the absolute limit (which is where I personally like to hear the best musicians play from).

I was actually shocked, I was being assaulted from all ends, the keyboardist was on a solo, the bass was on a solo moving from one side of the 6 string bass all the way to the end of the fretboard, all the while the drummer is shitting grapefruits all over the stage! One of the mics even fell over…

Also worth a mention is when they played one of my fave songs, Walkin’. I kept imagining that Havana Ginger was gonna walk on stage in nerd glasses, that would have been cool…LOL!

Such a feel good song, below is a link to the hilarious video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qGigIMM1Vw

What an epic show! Such a pity I missed the majority of it, but I felt satisfied I had a chance to see him live in such a rad setting with such quality musicianship!

And now the moment that pretty much everyone was waiting for…

Flying Lotus!

Flying Lotus watching from the sidelines…

To be continued in Sonar by Day Part 3….

Daedelus happens to be one of the most interesting artists on the circuit and has been for sometime. His approach to electronic music is a very hands on one!

Here’s a video of him demonstrating his setup in 2008.

His set is based around monome controllers and customized software and of course his brain, which is obviously the most important part.

Being a bit of a music tech freak I was as giddy as a trekkie going to his first convention!

This excitement was somewhat dulled though as I entered the stage area. While I accept the ‘electro trash’ type song he was playing was not quite my cup of tea, the sound was absolutely unacceptable!

Blaring distorted highs, lack of real bass oomph, and the stage just wasn’t dark enough!!!

Being Sonar by Day I wasn’t expecting a dark room with lasers, but I was expecting a more intimate stage and more mellow somewhat experimental sounds… I feel the organizers messed up booking him at this time of day, he should have been on the main stage, especially considering the energetic music he was delivering so well!

Regardless of the shocking sound the crowd were loving it, track after track he kept building the vibe and the people went with him, smiles were surrounding me as Daedelus manipulated the soundtrack, distorted synth driven music with 4/4 beats and glitchy percussion.

One moment he had us all going nuts with an epic build up and then…

I was at the front by then and I knew the main P.A system had cut out because you could hear his monitor speakers were still working… The crowd absolutely erupted in applause in support of the maestro, he smiled and shrugged his shoulders but kept playing, tweaking his controllers and dancing as he was before. More noise from the audience showing their support fuelled him as he got into his performance while still feeling a bit ‘naked’ and helpless…

By the time the sound came on the people were going mental on the dancefloor!!! But another outage pulled him back at another critical moment.

At this stage I was getting really pissed off, with a rig that size it had to be something fucking stupid, never mind that the sound was bad, it was as if it was a shitty sound company shining their horns saying we got paid for this…!

After the sound came back on, he had about 15mins left of his show and he began changing the vibe, he has been known to dabble in Dubstep and Future Garage. It was very cool to hear him do this live, using the monome to full affect triggering choppy vocal patterns, adjusting beats in real time (and being able to watch him do this was really awesome!).

He is one of the pioneers of this technique of live manipulation of sound and it felt good to see him in action getting such a great response from the audience because he is one of my biggest sources of inspiration when it comes to playing live electronic music. I also think he had a great time too cause he went a little over time… rightly so because at least 10mins of his set was destroyed by bad sound.

As I left the stage after a roaring applause I couldn’t help but feel let down by the show. He played great and I enjoyed it, but I think he should have had a Sonar by Night set closer to the peak time slot.

The lack of darkness ruined his visual show, which consisted of a complex array of moving mirrors, it just didn’t seem to work as intended and just felt a little awkward. I hated to disrespect such a great festival and artist but I had travelled a long way to be there, and can’t say I wasn’t a bit worried that I had wasted my money on ridiculous sound and shoddy line-up orders…

Anyway, it was epic seeing such an interesting character as him live!

Next up I was onto catch the last 30mins of one of the freshest musos I have discovered recently. In fact, he is in my top 10 list of people still living I most want to collaborate with.

Thundercat!

He was going to be followed by his record label boss, the one who feeds brains, Flying Lotus!

To be continued ;)

I found out that I was going to be in Spain at the time of Sonar 2012 by complete accident.

Shock was my first emotion, as I paged through the line-up my smile widened and my feelings got a lot deeper! Two of my all time favorite artists were on the list among other legends, and it completely blew me away!!! We were still planning our holiday at the time, but I knew no matter where we were in Spain (which to be fair was all over the place) I would get there either way! I also found out that there were a whole bunch of locals going over, which was rad to know considering I would be making the journey on my own.

Having not slept more than 3 hours, I left San Sebastián at what seemed like the crack of dawn! Walking to the station from the hotel I stayed at with my family was like a long walk to freedom, its an awesome little town I might add, I’d love to head back there so it was a little sad to leave, but I was going to Barcelona for Sonar!!!!

5 hours on a train and I was there! Took the metro 3 stops and boom, check in time at the hostel!

IF I COULD FIND IT!!!! LOL, found it after a few blocks walking, spent the next hour or so printing tickets, maps, lineup times etc.. and I was out of there, now to find the venue.

I LOOKED FOR AN HOUR!!!! Hahaha, got directions from some tourist help center (lol) and still couldn’t find it, I did find some rad shops (and loads of tourists, too many really) in the side streets off la Ramblas.

After what seemed like eternity I began to hear bass, I was looking for an open square but could not find it… Using my ears I followed the sound, clique I know, but it worked!

I began to spot people carrying programs and the much detested yet highly respected (in that time of need) Cervesa sellers or in English, guys who sell beer on the street like cokes…

I was finally there, my home for 3 days and 2 nights! It was near packed already, and the sun was warm outside, beautiful in fact after my previous days which were spent sheltering from either rain or wind.

It was exactly 16:00 which meant I was late for Daedelus!!!!

I made my way towards his performance area, past the main outdoor stage, through a door and down a suspect stairway filled to the brim with people drinking as much beer as they were sweating. The smell of hash (a familiar odor in these parts) followed me down as I squeezed my way through the wide variety of people exiting. I had made it I thought!

Or not, there was a huge group of people blocking what seemed to be the entrance, I had to get through it, after a few seconds of analysis I spotted a weak link and got in front of a group of bewildered Americans, as shocked as I was about the gridlock, but maybe not enough to do something about it, lol (I did apologize for jumping the, wait, what queue?!) No body was going in it seemed, but after 10mins of wonder I spotted people moving in and I made my ‘shift’ towards the gate and was let in along with the group I jumped in front of.

I WAS IN!!!!

It was quite a big room, filled to the max with people dancing, and the sound was horrid! It was also fuck-off hot in there, no air-con it seemed. Picture a low ceiling warehouse but not dark, like when you sleep late and wake up and the lights are off but the sun is peeping in through the gaps in the blinds.

I made my way through the crowd finding gaps where ever possible, I found minimal resistance and I was grateful, Daedelus had been on for maybe 15mins and the dance floor was in full motion…

TBC ;)

Just stopping by to pop my own cherry….wait, that’s not how it works, is it? Hmmm……

Anyways, awkward moments aside, this is indeed my first post on my own blog! I will be using this as an alternative outlet for my extended comments, reviews and most probably my rants…lol (and more!)

Also expect in the nearest future, event reviews from my trip to Sonar 2012 in Barcelona, and my on going exploration into the UK Drum ‘n Bass scene, where I have so far seen some of the most exciting artists and DJ’s perform on a weekly basis!

I am here still for another 2 weeks or so, then its back to Cape Town!!!

Speak soon, and if you have any subjects you would like me to tackle, do send me the suggestions!

Peace,

TehSynes

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