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Plaid Live in Concert (at Johnny Brenda's)

There are two facts that you need to know when you go to see a Plaid concert. One is that Ed and Andy are boring to watch because they're not performers. Two is that it doesn't matter because they still put out an absolutely amazing show.

This is the fourth time i've seen them live, this time in a very nice atmosphere of a bar/club called Johnny Brenda's. The club was split into two levels, the main dance/stage area and a balcony level where megan and i spent most of the concert. It was a medium/small space which was perfect for this kind of concert.

Out of all of the times i've seen Plaid, this was definitely the best for a few reasons. One, it's just been a while since they've released an album that they've toured with - the last time they were in the states was in 2008. Two, this crowd more than any of the other times i've seen them actually consisted of clear Plaid enthusiasts as people would yelp and cheer when familiar tracks would come on from the new album and from older ones, and the crowd was incredibly varied, like when i saw Fishbone in Eugene - there were a bunch of younger goth-like people mixed in with more typical club-looking people mixed in with various people in their 40s and 50s, and all of them were rocking out to the show as one unit. </p>

Third, Plaid may not be the most dynamic performers, but what they're strong at is creating a great production. The mix was loud and full of the sort of hits-you-on-the-inside bass that you want in a club, but not at the sacrifice of the other intricacies that make Plaid's music great. The album tracks that they play usually have some unique arrangement or enhancements to them that make them both familiar and new, which is great.

But more than that, Plaid's style of live performance touches upon the sort of minimalist and post-minimalist aesthetic that i've always resonated with in contemporary classical music and in other forms of electronica - they establish a groove and a line, and over a period of time they slowly evolve it, change it, and merge it with different material, and aren't afraid to take a good two to five minutes to transition from one song to the next using that and other minimalist techniques. There was one particularly awesome transition that occurred when they merged the ending of [sömnl] with the beginning of [The Launching of Big Face], and the way that it happened was by using some of the distinct sound effects from the latter with the ending of the former, then gradually bringing in the arpeggiation while sömnl's drum beat was still playing, establishing and keeping that going for a while, and then finally cutting out the old drum beat when the first bass note of Launching comes in.

And really what that does for me is put me in a state of immersion. With the energy of the crowd (despite the fact that i was in the balcony), the signature plaid video screen, the energy of the tracks, the kind of things that were happening musically, it was easy to get myself lost in what was happening, for time to melt away from a strict second to second and instead slow down and speed up at will.

and especially as i start to regain my own interest and development in electronic music working for Galaxy Interactive, concerts and groups like this educate me and inspire me. Plaid achieves something that Venetian Snares doesn't in that they reach a base and primal level of "just fucking groove" in a way that can be simultaneously laid back/relaxed and intense, but in a way that typical techno also doesn't because they actually have a lot of complexity to their rhythms, textures, and overall form that most groups don't touch. It's what i strive for in any of the music that i write and create, and this is a great model of not only how to do it, but a good reminder that it can be successful, that doing what they know that they want to do with the music and not compromising that can produce amazing results that will pull music enthusiasts from all sorts of backgrounds together and enjoy the experience in a way that you don't get from anything else.

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xtingu
Nov. 16th, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
This is the second mention of Plaid I've heard today... and I've otherwise never heard of them.

As a Plaid noob, can you point me to two tracks I should listen to? They seem to have a ton of stuff available on Amazon MP3, and I'm craving new music.

lifeofmendel
Nov. 16th, 2011 09:29 pm (UTC)
oh gosh. just two? eesh.

*pause*

i think i have to choose three.

"eyen" from 2001: http://youtu.be/Bjrq2VcSreo
"where" from 2006: http://youtu.be/A-tmtzBx2ZA
"at last" from 2011: http://youtu.be/7EDqTWrbqyU
lifeofmendel
Nov. 16th, 2011 09:32 pm (UTC)
aaand if you want other stuff too, go buy PVT's "Church with No Magic" (their videos are all over, easy to find), and see if you like stuff by Chris Clark (now known just as "Clark"). Herr Barr is a great track: http://youtu.be/XM1lLuOz-58 and so is Rainbow Voodoo: http://youtu.be/SGFyL2VCKJ0
xtingu
Jan. 16th, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC)
I'm a slacker, so I'm finally getting a chance to listen to these tracks now. All I can say is THANK YOU! Gaaaaah! I am totally in love.

Buying their stuff now.

Yaaaaaaay!
lifeofmendel
Jan. 16th, 2012 11:28 pm (UTC)
whoo hoo!
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