Disney Hall was vibrating at a deeper frequency than usual tonight. Quite literally:
Pravda pumped the staggering gajillion-watt boom and shriek of turntablists DJ Spooky, Amon Tobin, Cut Chemist and Peanut Butter Wolf into that finely tuned woodlined instrument, layered on a thousand cuts of Stalinist-era propaganda film and made the place rattle.
But it was not all blistering laptop jazz.
The Theremin Orchestra interlude just before midnight (dainty morsels of Prokofiev and the Beach Boys at violin volume) and even Bach’s rabble-rousing Toccata and Fugue in D Minor on the house organ sounded positively quaint compared with the war-hammer-of-Odin thunder reverberating from set after DJ set.
Like a rich, 7-course meal by an army of mad chefs, this was a groaning table-full of good, big, rich sound. The geek-savants cooking it up understood what a privilege it was to find themselves mashing up Stalin-era classical music in Disney Hall, and celebrated by shredding, reassembling, gilding, igniting and electrocuting the expectations of every member of the weirdly diverse full house …
This massive show gave everyone a bit more than they bargained for.
Patrons ranged from over-pierced clubsters in dreads and bewildered season ticket holders in blazers to industry nerds and teeny boppers.
As people lined up ahead of time, this immaculately-dressed-and-dentured septuagenarian couple tried – sweetly, if sleazily – to cut Rogan and me in line before the doors opened. They wound up trudging out five hours later looking miraculously none the worse for wear.
Patrons’ reactions ranged from groovers dancing snake-hipped in the aisles and snogging passionately in the dark to asshats who talked overloudly during the quiet theremin show or stalked out of the hall (midway through Cut Chemist’s bleeding-edge duet with a harpist that ended in a standing ovation) like they were fleeing the siege of Stalingrad.
Mumbles & Gone Beyond and Peanut Butter Wolf had fun mixing Stalinist anthems and dirges with breakbeats and modern samples while video screens played snippets of Stalin-government film: tearfully proud Communists fawning over their mustachioed leader; wave upon wave of tanks, crusaders and evil Germans; a stop-motion skull eating its way through a headshot of the beloved revolutionary dictator.
DJ Spooky’s wickedly intelligent but uneven set (and I’m a drooling fan) was left echoing shrilly around the half-empty house at night’s end only because a good number of people walked out after the real vibes had finished reverberating from Amon Tobin’s immaculate work.
Tobin’s set melded some of the found sounds from “The Foley Room” and loops from his lusher earlier works with raw noise that sounded like it had been collected yesterday morning out on Sunset. At one point, he he turned down the relentless tsunami-wash of chewy bass-synth pads and cued up a sample that sounded like a mile-wide Harley. The hall fairly shook.
If you haven’t figured it out, I basically wore a stupid grin for the entire show because, like everyone else, I’d never seen anything quite so brawling, brash and fuck-it-all fun.
It takes vision to put together a show like that: kudos to the L.A. Phil for curating it.
It was, really, one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen in a “classical” hall – a multimedia mosh pit of next-millennium sounds played off against last-millennium agitprop in a way that really made you wonder – when will they be so brave again?
If you missed it, go check out the music of everyone who played. and if you were there – testify here.