Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Fatboy Slim

Right Here, In a Minute
The Premier, Seattle, WA

Tonight's epidemiological challenge is to solve the riddle of why less than 50% of this crowd is dancing. To answer, we look at various factors: layout of the space, lighting, demographics of the audience, consistency of the performer's set, use of visual aides, and the impact of alcohol-dispensing holding pens.

For starters, the layout is sorta retarded. The stage is set up in the middle of the room with the decks facing one of the THREE bar areas. This lets people surround Mr. Cook on all sides, but dissipates the crowd so that thre is no longer one central place for people to dance together. As a result, the energy in the room feels low because people are way too spread out. There are some individual exceptions, however, like the spillovers from the Oracle event a couple of weeks ago, a gal who looks like a pole dancer without the pole, and various amped up guys who dance really hard even though they know they have to be back to work at Eddie Bauer in the morning.

And, ok, the lighting. When I'm at a show like this I like to, as they say, lose myself in the music, the moment, etc. For me this means overall darkness, strobe lights, swirly colored things, and little eye contact. This place is so lit up that I can see the face of the guy checking IDs across the room at the entrance to one of the bar areas. This causes the crowd to be much more reserved since they know EVERYONE can see them. There is beautiful anonymity in darkness, and we don't have it here. It makes the show feel like a closing night party at CES.

We tour the bar areas to figure out why some people are lounging on couches instead of dancing. Some people are in here because they are newly able to be in here and it's novel, some are quickly consuming alcohol to comepensate for the lighting, and some are just bored. The bored ones makes me listen more closely to Fatboy Slim's technique on the decks.

The technique goes like this: start with repetitive vocal sample, add beat, add layers to create awesome freak-out groove that lasts one minute, stop beat, make up for dead spot by clapping, show crowd record sleeve with writing on it, extend arms Christ-like and accept applause and adoration, morph to new repetitive vocal sample, rinse, repeat. The stopping and starting has the intended teasing effect on the people closest to the stage, but for the outliers it's frustrating. It takes a good 30 seconds to build up a groove in your body, then he stops the whole thing and makes you look at him. This is why I see at least a dozen people standing there with their arms folded during big chunks of the set.

Overall, people seem to have a good time during the show. Maybe they are tired because Donald Glaude put on a manic, sweaty set earlier (a set I missed because for some reason I always miss him even though I have tickets to his shows). But it makes me long for a smaller, darker, less comfortable space packed with bodies, so that we can all feel like we are truly right here, right now.


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