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  TORTOISE w/ Autechre and Nobukazu Takemura  
  The Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre  
  Buckhead, Atlanta, GA  
Reviewed by:
Performance Rating:
  (for Tortoise)  
      (for the other bands)  
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Overall Rating:

As i have previously stated, i have a certain fondness for electronic music. I like the soundscapes that can be created through machinery. It makes, i think, for some interesting listening. Not all minions agree with me, and i can admit that electronic music can be wierd and grating at times.

This show was a good example of that. I dragged Tracers to this show in an attempt to convert her to my electronical music ways and thus rise up to overthrow the pop tyranny of Malimus and ... perhaps i have said too much on that note. Just forget it.

We arrived at The Roxy at around 8 PM. Doors had opened at 7, but we figured, since this is Atlanta (the land of absurdly late concerts) nothing would get going right away.

We were wrong. Apparently Prefuse 23, the first act, went on at 7:15!! Can you believe that? In Atlanta? Well, according to other concertgoers it happened. We missed it. Which is a shame because i have heard good things about this act. Now i will have to wait until some other time to hear them.

When we walked into the theater area, Nobukazu Takemura was already on stage and had just begun playing. It was actually him and Aki Tsuyuko, who also played on his last album, Hoshi No Koe.

There was not much of a stage show -- two people clustered around a bank of computers, including a Mac Powerbook. To compensate for this, there was a large projection screen covered with computer generated images (cartoon characters, short film loops, etc.) to distract the crowd while Takemura and Tsuyuko twiddled knobs and moved the mouse around.

Musically there were strange little melodies and harsh beats looped together. Interesting enough, but it was GODAWFUL LOUD. I mean, was there really any reason that it had to be so loud? Takemura was the loudest musician that night.

After Takemura left the stage, more gear was brought out, including 2 Mac Powerbooks this time. (It was a Powerbook kind of night.) This setup was for Autechre, the band i was there to see.

Ahhh, Autechre. I honestly think that they are one of the most unique musical outfits in all of electronica. Then again, i used to threaten people at parties with "I want to go to bed, and if you people don't leave i'll make you listen to Autechre really loud." That usually cleared the unwanted guests out of my home. And yet, well, here i was at a show, listening to Autechre really loud. Irony.

Autechre were exactly what i expected them to be in concert, and that is both good and bad. I expected them to be two guys with a bunch of gear. They were. I expected them to craft abstract rhythms and sonic textures out of their gear in a way that is either a-rhythmical or of such a complicated rhythm that you cannot dance to it. They did. I expected them to create interesting music that i could just stand there and listen to, exploring the paths they mapped out. They did craft such paths. I expected there to be no real stage show. There wasn't, and that was their downfall for me.

I think i have made clear that despite the heavily experimental nature of their music, i enjoy Autechre. Well, Tracers does not. She lasted 4 minutes of their "show" and then headed out to the Lobby. I lasted another 25 minutes or so, and then the semblance of a show just collapsed.

I was standing there -- listening to the music, and the two members of Autechre obviously got all of the gear tweaked and loaded just right, so they sat down on the back of the stage to have a smoke break. I was left listening to music and staring at, basically, a big complicated stereo. And i realized -- this is like listening to Autechre at home. Only my stereo is not quite so loud and the acoustics in my apartment are not quite so good. However, if i was creating this experience at home it might be quieter, but i could have my cat in my lap, which is a plus. I weighed the situation for a minute or two and then decided that i could listen just as well out in the lobby while standing in line for the restroom.

Now, it may sound as if i were disappointed in Autechre. I was not. The music sounded great, and the show was, well, it was what i expected it to be. This is the negative side of electronic music -- not really anything to look at. I went in with that expectation, so i was able to focus on the music, which was quite nice.

After Autechre's gear was removed, Tortoise quickly took the stage. Mind you, it was about 9:45 or so, in Atlanta, and the headliner was on stage. Definitely not your normal Atlanta concert experience.

Tortoise were, quite simply, brilliant. They are some of the most talented people i have ever had the privalege to watch perform: people who each know not one but several instruments really really well.

The show higlighted songs off of Standards, their latest release, as well as ranging through their career. The music was a mix of complicated drumming (at times they would have two drummers going at different rhythms), deep bass, and wandering keyboards or xylophone or guitar or whatever. There also was a complicated video show run by three Powerbooks. (We stood behind the video people, so we got to see them work.)

Their music is stunning. I enjoy listening to Tortoise on record, but live they blow me away. The textures are so rich and the music so powerful that i just stood there, stunned, as they performed. It's as if the music is so complex that it is also simple. As if twisting rhythm and melody into a sound so beautiful were the most logical thing in the world. Tortoise are so talented that they make it look easy!

On the whole, i had a blast this night. However, i can admit that Takemura and Autechre's sets are not the type of thing that deserve a concert. I would rather sit at home with my cats and listen to that type of music. Tortoise, on the other hand, are only better live.

My advice to you is rush to see Tortoise when you get the chance. As to the other two bands -- if you really enjoy them it's kinda cool to see them live. Creative visualization and headphones can pretty much recreate the same experience in the comfort of your own home though.

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