Pendulum & Glitch Mob @ Club Nokia
You have to take LA for what it is; you cannot try to make this city into something that it is not. Los Angeles is flash and lights and beautiful women, sunshine-crammed days and loud laughing nights, shiny surfaces and vapid smiles, sexy cars, hard skyscrapers and defiant dreams. This city is over the top, this city is too much, this city is madness. You must take it for what it is.
The same goes for Pendulum. You have to take them for what they are, and for what they are today, not yesterday.
Last night I decided to what-the-hell give myself to the city’s mania and go see Pendulum with their new sound, more rock than drum and bass. I had heard hella shit talk from hard core electronic music fans about how Pendulum has sold out and mainstreamed their music to make more money; how their old sound was no more. Well, I like new shit (I’m an addict, actually), so I thought I would at least check them out, and the openers just happened to be these four guys called the Glitch Mob.
So yeah- last night I went to a rock concert for the first time in a while. The venue? Club Nokia. HOLY GOD, is that place fucking serious? Is LA serious? Nobody answer that.
Walking up to the complex surrounding the Staples Center in downtown LA from my free parking space (SCORE!) I was truly taken aback, eyes up and jaw down like a tribesman in Times Square. The avenues leading up to this massive public party arena and collection of venues is lined with dozens and dozens of trees, all glistening with periwinkle lights that don’t just twinkle but drip sparkles from the branches. It is an awesome effect.
The central plaza is dominated by no less than ten enormous screens blasting corporate-hip music and images of pretty young faces that we are supposed to want to be, and the modern altars burn so brightly it seems like daytime. I put on my shades. The scale of the open square is dazzling, and even though you know that those flashing screens are trying to sell you something, you can’t help but be amazed at this circus mecca of entertainment we have created for ourselves. The place was CRACKing, tons of young people out to see or be seen in the scene, to make out with their hot boyfriends up against posts, and to rock out to Pendulum.
“Where’s Club Nokia?” I asked, to be pointed down a hallway where giant images of cellphones led the way. Duh. Follow the mobile gods.
I always blah-blah on about how much I love dive bars and shitty gritty dance clubs, but last night in the ridiculously slick Club Nokia, I was all about the modern, purpose-built, sound-focused venue. I loved it. The shape is traditional theater-style with a big main stage and surrounding dance floor, flanked by bars and open space, and topped with balconied seats. It is huge, but somehow they have managed to create a true feeling of intimacy in this giant space. Club Nokia seems smaller than it is and you feel more engaged and closer the stage than you actually are. The visuals were absolutely stunning, the sound was balanced and pure, and the vodka-sodas were $10. Hey, you gotta take it for what it is, right?
Though the venue is about fifteen minutes away from my apartment, it took about an hour for me to traverse the LA madness and actually get inside. The Glitch Mob was on and I headed to the front of the dance floor, only to find that I had arrived too late to obtain the required wrist band for entry into the front section.
What! The back of the room does not work for Shilo. I want to be in the front. I am short, I have shit vision, I dance like a maniac and dammit, I earn my place next to those speakers. I want to be up front!
I was pouty for a quick minute before remembering that rules don’t apply to me, and I snuck right past the burly bouncer the second he turned his back and claimed my rightful place under Kraddy’s bobbing head.
The Glitch Mob was in fine form last night; these gorgeous boys clean up so well and anyone has to love playing in an epic venue like that. Every one of their live shows are different and I always hear sounds and mixes and tracks that I have not heard before, which makes me wish the guys would put some of their live shows out as mixes. I have a few but they are over a year old.
Glitch Mob fans who don’t live in LA and who don’t get to see them all the freaking time like moi would love to share the sounds of these sets and get in on the new shit these guys are throwing down. Fans would pee themselves to get copies of these live performances.
Now, the bad thing about sneaking up front or into a show is that once you are there, you can’t leave to go to the bathroom or get a drink or have a smoke or wander around. Unless, that is, you think you can sneak back in again. So after the Glitch Mob I left to relieve my bladder and check out the venue; the music they were playing between acts was actually really fresh and plenty of people just continued their dance madness all around the club.
The lights went off and Pendulum came on. GOD I love that moment when the lights drop to nothing and the screams go up into the night and the antici…pation is at its height! People really started freaking out at this point; this show was obviously a big fucking deal for a lot of the fans. I love sharing in the passion of other human beings, even if it isn’t my favorite music on earth, it is somebody’s, and I love being brought into that circle of love. It is warm and it bounces.
I snuck past another bouncer and arrived back down front so I could better see Pendulum prancing around. Now, I must say- I had a great time last night. I danced my ass off, and I really enjoyed Pendulum’s music which surprised me. I had judged their new sound based on talk and a listen of a few songs on their Myspace page, and I was stoked to be wrong.
Hard, dark, and dirty d&b flavored rock, delivered with all the pomp you would expect of a rock band, guitars stretched high in the sky from crotches like dicks to the moon, dramatic waving arm action, epic Jesus-poses, and lots of coerced crowd interaction. GET YOUR HANDS UP!!!
The lead singer kept imploring the crowd to “raise the roof” and get all crazied-out in “Club Nokia.” Ah, someone should tell these guys that no one says “raise the roof” anymore and no one gives a fuck about “Club Nokia.” We like the venue, for sure, but no one is ever gonna chant out “Nokia!” in the crowd, no matter how much those giant cell phone images would like it. But Pendulum obviously loves playing rock star, and why not? They are good at it, and the crowd loves it too.
Pendulum’s driving sound was a heavy mix of rock and electronica, distorted with a squeeze of evil and an nth of industry, danceable with the potential to make kids go nuts. I think more rock bands should try it. Yeah, Pendulum is not the same D&B megastars they were a few years ago. Their music is different and their show is different. So what. I will take them for what they are now, and they obviously have a lot of fans who feel likewise.
I was surprised to enjoy their new music so much, though there was a bit too much rock star posturing for me, too much division between the performers and the audience. I like it when we are one. I don’t want to have screaming contests with the audience on the other side of the venue, I don’t want to be told how hyped up the energy in the room is, and I sure as hell don’t want to give a shout out to Nokia.
But the verdict is: I would definitely see Pendulum again, and maybe even pay next time.
See, at Low End Theory this week I was talking to some guys from Perth out on the balcony. One of them, Gareth, said they were in a band, Pendulum, and needed girls to go on the Jimmy Kimmel show with them. “What the fuck ever, you guys are messing with the blond girl. If you are Pendulum, put me on the list for your show and go back to drum and bass already.”
So yeah. My bad. It was totally them. And you know what guys? Forget what I said. Play whatever the hell you want to play. Your show rocked and I had a killer time. Thank you.
The next time I meet someone in LA who claims to be a celebrity or in a band or on a reality TV show, I won’t be so quick to call bullshit. I will take them for what they are, just like this crazy fucking city I call home.
True to form, I have one shitty iPhone picture for you guys! Hey at least it’s from the front!