Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Chemical Brothers @ Hammerstein Ballroom - Sep 21, 2007

Brothers gonna work it out

I had a bet against myself. I bet that the Chemical Brothers' show was going to be better than the past Daft Punk's show at Coney Island, and I won! Of course.

After seeing my first Chemical show almost two years ago I promised I was always going to see them live as long as they were coming to the town I was living in (or around). Their show setup hasn't changed much but their visuals and music have. The Brothers use high-quality technology for putting one of the best live experiences for electronic music and it has been like that since ten years ago, at least, so no reason to miss it.

Tripping visuals including funny/scary mimes, cute butterflies, great dancers and 3-D excursions inside churches and tunnels, make everybody go crazy while Tom and Ed are busy pushing buttons and mixing their music live. This is not your regular rave with a couple of annoying lasers and strobes (don't take me wrong, I appreciate lasers and strobes, but not the whole night)... this is the ultimate live experience of the big beat manifesto.

Now, the set of course has changed. I am not a fan of their new album We Are the Night, just a couple of songs, and they played lots of stuff from there. Do It Again, as in the album, sounded particularly weak for being a Chemical Brothers track, but fortunately was mixed in a brilliant way on top of Galvanize and Get Yourself High, quite a good deal for old school fans and new comers to the Chemical music. We Are the Night and Saturate were a completely different story, they deserved to be played by themselves with the great old classics the Brothers chose for the mix. That part of the set my eyes were closed traveling back in time to when I used to play loud all my Chemical Brothers albums on a Saturday afternoon (or was it Thursday?), before going out to local parties to lose my mind to the x-pleasure... I didn't need any this time.

The first part of the trip started with the Brothers asking us slowly if there was No Path to Follow, and then exploded like a Burst Generator with some serious images like those you see when seeing through a kaleidoscope. Galvanize followed with that mime one can see in the video (bah, and in the picture up there), insisting to Get Yourself High and Do It Again (I am sure everybody did), and then they pumped us even more with a couple of lines of a song everybody knows...
Hey Girls, Hey Boys, Superstar DJs, Here we go!
Damn and we went.

One of the best moments of the show was about to come. There's a particularly good track on the new album called All Rights Reversed, a collaboration with Klaxons, which is not the kind of song the Brothers would play at a gig, but its beat was so smoothly altered to sound right with Hey Boy, Hey Girl that I couldn't stop clapping and looking around to make sure I wasn't the only one noticing that. But that was not really the peak... that was just the beginning. It happened when they went Out of Control. The led nets behind their decks became police officers holding guns almost break dancing... we seriously were out of control. The simplest and most insane images I have ever seen, ever (my chemical bro recorded some of these images at the Chemical gig he went... please feel the bass!). To finish killing us, Star Guitar came in... god, you could have felt it through your pores... everybody was jumping, fists in the air and too much excitement nobody could believe. If I had been on drugs I think I couldn't have stand it, it had been too much. And they knew it... and slowed down.

The second part started and it couldn't have been in a more pleasant way... literally they made us Surface to Air. That song is one more of those great last tracks albums should come with. It was the one track that made me appreciate Push the Button more and made me play it again and again until I fall in love with the rest. Surface to Air lets you have some rest and slowly builds a soft beat from scratch taking you to the right place where the Brothers need to have you for then striking you one more time with a killer song as the new Saturate, one of their few really good songs on We Are the Night. That was peak number 2, a new song, Saturate, and a couple of old songs, Surface to Air and Believe, melted into timeless perfection. Their leds were now little colorful balls exploding at the right time, exactly when the recorded drums sounded more than the bass, more than anything else, and exactly when you were wondering what the hell was going to happen to them. In that moment I knew I had to open some space in my mind for a new classic to be remembered in an already impressive catalog.

This has been a long post and I haven't even talked about peak number 3, the best one, so I am going to skip some details. My Brothers played the rocking Setting Sun and closed the set claiming what they completely deserved: We Are the Night. And here it is where peak number 3 comes... for the encore. Golden Path, the collaboration they did with The Flaming Lips, was the first song chosen to close this terrific night. It made sense... they started asking if there was No Path to Follow but totally there was... and it was even fucking golden! To finish us, the most amazing tetra of classic (a gift to old fans) break beat songs killed us all: The Sunshine Underground, Chemical Beats (which it is pretty much their first underground hit from their even more awesome debut album Exit Planet Dust), Leave Home (the one that says "brothers gonna work it out") and the insane Block rocking Beats, which I guess I don't need to insist how important it is for electronic modern music. There might have played even one more song, but I don't remember... my mind was already gone.

I wish you like them and you live in a place where they tour, because if that's the case then you shouldn't be reading this shit, but writing your own... they make you do this kind of things. [photos of the show]


Were you at the show? How did you like it?

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