So how do you write a review about a guy standing behind a table and playing other people’s tunes, mostly, while jumping up and down to a steady, locked 4/4, 120 BPM beat? Hmmm. Well, like this, I suppose.
Right off the bat, it should be noted that booking a Moby DJ set at Canalside was a coup for all involved. The guy – a major force in ’90s alternative music, and an artist who has done significant work in the areas of ambient music, dance, electronic music and various hybrids of all of these – does not tour much these days and picks his spots carefully. Moby has made it plain that he doesn’t like touring any more and would prefer to make music at home, record it and share it, without having to leave the cloistered comfort of his New York City crib.
Moby still occasionally tours as a musician – a guy who plays various instruments. sings and puts on what might loosely be described as a “rock” show. But he also tours as an electronic dance music “artist” – meaning he’s a DJ, a guy who stands beneath a stadium rock light show and “spins” other people’s records.
That’s what he did Thursday at Canalside, before a surprisingly large crowd – surprising because the weather, with strong winds, relatively cool temperatures and the occasional appearance of cold rain, felt more like late October than mid-August.
Much of Thursday’s show resembled his July 2014 playlist, though he did go off script a bit, and most definitely seemed to be feeling the rather euphoric response the Buffalo audience offered him. (Was he surprised by this? Did he arrive in town for soundcheck and mutter beneath his breath, “I’m playing underneath a highway in Buffalo on a freezing cold day!” Who knows. But by showtime, he seemed pretty pumped.)
Arriving on stage unannounced, wearing a Black Flag T-shirt, Moby offered some of his own music, before delving deeply into sets of songs he clearly loves and feels comfortable presenting in real-time remixed format.
He’s recently released playlists that include his takes on tracks by DJ Snake and Mercer, Thomas Newson, Congo Rock, Charlie Darker, Mighty Fools, and Loops of Fury, as well as his recently released collaboration with Darth & Vader, and he shared much of that material Thursday.
Essentially, though, what we got was a bald dude standing behind a table populated by a mixer and a few mixdecks – Moby didn’t actually have turntables on his platform – and jumping up and down after each “drop.”
This should’ve just been comical, but it was more than that – it was also kind of awesome.
By the time Moby took the stage, Canalside appeared to be packed with partiers who were eager to dance, and these dancers wasted no time creating a rave-like atmosphere.
We knew what was coming every time because the tempo never shifted, every tune was in the same dance-friendly time signature, and the throbbing light show ruined any sense of suspense that might’ve been conjured. And yet, because Moby is Moby, it just came across as an impossible to resist the invitation to dance.
The mood was set rather nicely by Buffalo-born DJs Marcos and Xotec, both of whom offered sets that were surprising in their variety and uniform in their visceral, aggressive nature.
Marcos managed to blend hip-hop grooves with Beach Boys choruses, and let a smoking Talking Heads groove do all the talking that was necessary, while Xotec spat electro for most of his set.
Thursday evening at Canalside