Monday, February 25, 2013

Magic Touch and Mutant Beat Dance Work Through Sound Issues at Monarch

Posted By on Mon, Feb 25, 2013 at 5:00 AM

click to enlarge KAHLEY AVALON EMERSON
  • Kahley Avalon Emerson

No Way Back presents Mutant Beat Dance and Magic Touch

Friday, Feb. 22, 2012

Monarch

There was some head-nodding, but not a whole lot of dancing at Monarch last Friday. This is an unusual occurrence for No Way Back, a party whose exuberant crowd generally creates one of the most active dancefloors in the city. Sound issues and the sometimes-atmospheric nature of Mutant Beat Dance, the headlining act, meant that things took on a more critical and cerebral vibe. Yet, even though the party had a few bumps, it turned out alright in the end.

click to enlarge KAHLEY AVALON EMERSON
  • Kahley Avalon Emerson
Tyrel Williams opened the night in typically flawless style with a set of mid-tempo house cuts that kept the vibe up while still setting the stage for something more. We arrived just in time to hear him play Jamie 3:26's tripped-out edit of Yello's "Bostich." Delayed cowbells filled the mostly empty room, ping-ponging between the club's four Tuba-shaped speakers. Below, Donovan's psychedelic visuals pumped and flowed across every surface, giving the venue's usually glossy sheen a dose of underground cool. A slide of a bird in flight wildly moved across the screen behind the DJ booth -- Donovan was manipulating it by hand, giving it the kind of erratic motion that a computer would have a hard time replicating. I grabbed a beer and watched Williams flip a record diagonally in his box that loudly read, "Das Ding." It was a portent of the industrial direction the night would ultimately take. About an hour passed, and the club began to fill up with a mixture of expensively dressed clubbers (who didn't seem to know what they were in for) and local faces on the first night of what would become a fatiguing three-day series with Harvey at Public Works on Saturday, and Sprinkles at Holy Cow on Sunday. Soon, Williams would play his last song and cede the spotlight to Magic Touch (a.k.a. Damon Palermo), who had set up on a stage opposite the DJ booth with a modest amount of gear, the center pieces being an MPC and an old Yamaha SU700 sampler (which seems to be the unit of choice for a lot of San Francisco producers these days).
click to enlarge KAHLEY AVALON EMERSON
  • Kahley Avalon Emerson
As he went on, the sound immediately took a dip in quality. The bass and highs were sucked out, as though everything was playing out of a cheap radio. This is, of course, very weird for Monarch, which has one of the best (if not, the best) sound systems in the city. Palermo didn't look phased; instead he stood almost motionless tapping the buttons on his sequencers with a cool nonchalance. What could be heard of the music was straight-ahead deep house, with short hypnotic loops circling around sampled disco percussion for an aesthetic that brought to mind both Daft Punk's early material and the four-to-the-floor drive of Detroit players like Rick Wade. But I can't help but feel that his live show could have been more dynamic. To just play a sampler and stay at the same tempo, with a continuous stream of music, gets tiring after a while. For a live hardware performance to take the place of a DJ set (at least for someone who makes dance music), I feel as though there needs to be an injection of improvisation, something that strives for a more fluid dialogue with the audience. Then again, it may have just been the sound quality that made it difficult to appreciate what he was doing.
click to enlarge KAHLEY AVALON EMERSON
  • Kahley Avalon Emerson
One brief interlude later and headliners Mutant Beat Dance replaced Palermo on stage behind a clustered tangle of synthesizers, oddball guitar pedals, and cheap drum machines. Cords snaked along the surface, creating the appearance of some kind of retro-cyberpunk gear console. This image was aided by one of the duo's deadstock T-shirts, which claimed allegiance to '80s dark experimental group Current 93. It all culminated in the music itself, which straddled the line between danceable industrial and raw Chicago house. By the time they started, the sound quality had gotten noticeably better. They warmed up their gear with a long ambient interlude, before dropping into jerking rhythms that careened through the room. They took turns on the mic, sing-speaking ominous riffs through muffled layers of delay and distortion. A bouncing bassline played off a bongo and they intoned simultaneously "take me to another world" and "feel the groove." These sound rather cliche out of context, but in the moment they felt relatively serious. This was due in part to the density and texture of the instrumental music beneath. Occasionally the vocals got a little too intense -- lyrics don't mean much if they're so processed as to be unintelligible. Those that did get through created a heady atmosphere that contributed to the head-nodding. And while Magic Touch may have benefitted from more dynamics, Mutant Beat Dance might have benefited from less. Each song was accompanied by an interlude in which the duo frantically reset their gear for the next song. They also had some problems with sound: at a few points there was a distinct and definitely arrhythmic digital clipping noise that drew attention away from their set. Whether this was their fault or the club's is hard to say. They finished and Solar hopped on the deck. The difference in sound between his first record and the music that had played before was startling. He dropped Sling and Samo's "DJ Tool #1" and the bass that had been absent filled the room, as if a pressurized valve had suddenly burst open. We stayed for a bit to dance as he rode a few records over their rough edges, but finally left to conserve energy for the long weekend ahead. -- @DerekOpperman Avalon_Emerson



  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

About The Author

Derek Opperman

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.