When I showed up halfway through Michael Red’s opening set at Fortune last Thursday, I immediately regretted not arriving in time for the entire thing.
When he left the stage and ANGO, the second opener, came on, I immediately regretted not showing up later.
Allow me to elaborate.
Michael Red looked very small compared to the beats he was dropping from way at the back of the stage, and his peculiar lack of showmanship meant that I almost missed him the first time my eyes scanned the DJ booth when we walked in. That being said, his music has a more than commanding enough presence for the both of them.
You know that feeling when the car comes to a sudden stop and your body tenses for that backwards lurch… and then it never comes? That’s what Michael Red’s mishmash of dubstep and techno meets R&B had me doing. The notes never hit where I expected them to and it was decidedly unsatisfying, but also deeply captivating. I felt like I was teetering on the edge of something very exciting for what little of his set I actually arrived in time for. Luckily for me, Michael Red also played between ANGO and Machinedrum, as well as playing us all out at the end.
Okay, let’s move on to ANGO. I don’t really know what to say here. I feel a little bad, because I clearly wasn’t the only one considerably less than impressed by his performance. And by that, I mean somebody chucked a beer can at this poor guy’s head in the middle of it. Some would call this a childish outburst; I would call ANGO’s set a childish outburst.
But I really don’t agree with the beer can.
There was a brief period when his mic gave out and I’ve got to admit, I preferred that to his vocals. It was kind of like hearing Shawn Desman sing over a bad club remix of some drum-heavy dance tunes. The only good thing I really have to say about it is that the backdrop was really, really cool. Enough colors to trip over and enough bright flashes to keep a dull mind interested.
Enough about the openers. Let’s move on to Machinedrum! This guy killed it with songs from his new release, Vapor City. He let one song run seamlessly into the next, taking a break for a quick bashful wave every twenty minutes or so before striking the board again. I let myself get lost in the warbling distortions and pushed my way to the front, which was no small feat as people began to get properly invested in the music.
The tone switched so often from delicate, wavering harmonies to the sudden abrasive crashing of percussion perfection that by the end, my mind was reeling. I managed to get right up to the front of the crowd somehow, right next to the speakers. Remember what I said about crashing percussions? Not only was the sound just as good this close up as it had been in the middle, Machinedrum gave my hair the rare and beautiful gift of being able to feel things. I swear my arm hairs had a million tiny heartbeats.
The projection screen behind him played what appeared to mostly be images of weird, distorted hallways, pulsing and convulsing in time with the beat. It was the kind of seizure-inducing imagery that makes your eyes feel like they’re hyperventilating.
Near the end of the show, a tiny moshpit actually broke out in the crowd. It wasn’t something I’d expect from somebody like Machinedrum but it definitely found its place. It also gave us all a chance to push our week’s worries around a bit, not to mention get a little hot and sweaty before braving the frozen tundra that is Vancouver of late. What with that and Michael Red coming on to play us all out the door, the night was definitely rounded off nicely.