Gold Panda Shines Brightly

Gold Panda was meant to be experienced on warm summer nights like this. His ambient music is full of joyful, glitchy beats and swirling, oriental samples that transport you to balmier climates. Derwin Lau is the Englishman behind the stage name Gold Panda. He played a masterful set that had everyone dancing and looking blissful. The Electric Owl, a cozy little venue on Main, filled up with a happy, chilled-out vibe. The moustachioed hipster looked right at home dancing besides the glitter-covered raver. It was a nicely communal experience compared to the usual show etiquette of standing still, nodding your head and watching the whole thing through your phone. Gold Panda’s music is routinely associated with the word human. Apparently electronic music is usually composed by automatons? Gold Panda is definitely human and arrived on stage looking like a very ordinary student one. He was clad in an unassuming black hoodie and, for the most part, let his music do the talking.

Gold Panda came to prominence in 2009. Tastemakers such as Pitchfork hyped his song Quitters Raga and helped expose him to a North American audience. He released his debut album Lucky Shiner in 2010 with label Ghostly International. He mostly played songs from this album along with a few from his various EPs. Gold Panda recently tweeted that he does not make dance music. Fortunately dancing is a byproduct of his charming electronic music. The glitchy track “You”, featuring a distorted sample that pinballs around the song, had everybody bouncing up and down. A few girls even took to the stage to show their appreciation for Gold Panda with manic dance moves. Some ambient music can feel a little cold or distant in a live setting. Gold Panda’s music however does not suffer from this. It helps that Gold Panda looked so intensely into the music. By the end of the set he was a sweaty mess, furiously head bobbing and orchestrating the whole thing. While quiet he seemed obviously enthused by the warm response he was getting from the crowd.

A kaleidoscopic visual projection behind him bathed us in purple and green light. It was a mix of esoteric arty images and homespun pictures of kittens, dogs and English countryside. This is an apt analogy for Gold Panda’s music. Warped, distorted beats intertwine with pop melodies. Tracks from Lucky Shiner also have a homely feel about them with names like “Parents” and “Marriage”. Overall it is a comforting and uplifting mix of lo-fi weirdness. He finished his set with his single “Quitters Raga”. This was a big crowd-pleaser and a great end to a tiring but fun night. The crowd was not ready to come down from their high and Gold Panda duly played an encore. Gold Panda is in the middle of touring at the moment and I would heartily recommend everybody to attend if they can. His live show made me even more of fan. I may even be the one wearing the gold body glitter at the next one.

Jessica O'Brien

Jessica O'Brien

Jessica O'Brien fills many the happy hour as contributing editor and writer for the Vancouver Weekly. She can be found eating all the nibbles at book launches or getting lost in tiny secondhand book stores. Follow her on twitter @jesso_brien