Knife Party Stereo Live March 23, 2012
Friday night, a DJing duo from Australia clever enough to call itself Knife Party had a show at Stereo Live.
Knife Party is classified within the dubstep genre, but that relationship is, at best, tenuous; mostly, they're an electro/house group. That's a semantic conversation to have because electro/house is only about two dubs away from being dubstep, but it's one that people within that particular community are passionate about.
Still, given the context, it's almost a pointless plot point to consider when you're talking about a review of their show. What is important: Maybe 2,000 people were there, and just about all of them were losing their shit as KP played.
Let's go 3-2-1 with some notes from the show:
Three Knife Party Points (Eh, eh. See that? Because knives have points.)
1. The time leading up to Knife Party coming out was filled by other DJs, who appeared to do an enjoyable job; the crowd was in a proper lather for the entirety of the openers' sets. But when KP came out, Holy Christ, the place fucking exploded.
It was remarkable. The DJ before them stopped, put one hand in the air as a "Thanks, you guys," wandered off, then KP came out, took about six seconds to set up, then blasted off. Their sound is an equally bombastic, equally frenetic, but noticeably less heavy amalgam of tinks and thumps and WAHWAHWAHs than, say, the Skrillexian version of dubstep that most can identify, but it was no less fun.
2. The most immediately fun song that Knife Party has is "Internet Friends." It is narrated by an obsessive femme automaton and builds itself up into a hyper-creepy crescendo, wherein the music rapidly evolves into horror-movie atmospherics. You hear the sound of someone walking, then knocking on a door, then a cell phone ringing and vibrating and being messaged, then a window smash, then a dead "You blocked me on Facebook. And now you're going to die."
It is a brilliant bit of marksmanship, and maybe the smartest moment of any of the songs they've made (Soundcloud page here) what with its glance towards the Internet as an increasingly influential mechanism of rotting societal mores and decency, but, perhaps most importantly, it fucking rocks balls, which is sort of the point of this whole thing, maybe.
3. At various points in the evening, one of the members of Knife Party would grab the mike, then shout something into it (most enjoyable: "Come on, Houston! Let's make Dallas look like shit!"). It only happened a couple of times, but each time it did, it was slightly weird.
At most concerts, it's clear that the artist is the star of the show (probably because they're using their mouths to make noises). But at an EDM show, they're so overtaken by the music or by the throb of the mob, sometimes in enormous fashion, that it's easy to forget to someone is responsible for the electros that are coming out of the speakers.
There's a certain bit of detachment that comes from giving in, and that's maybe to be expected -- stand in the middle of 1,500 sweaty, jumpy, excited people and close your eyes; it's overwhelmingly visceral -- but there's an undeniable intellectual aspect involved as well, and it's equally fun to consider after the fact.
Two Environmental Asides
1. You know that thing that security does inside the club where, when you're doing something wrong, they flash their handheld lights towards your face and move it back and forth real quick to get your attention? That shit is beyond pointless at an Electronic Dance Music party. The whole place is blinking lights.
It's like shooting a water gun at someone swimming underwater. I watched one guy flash his flashlight for, maybe, a full minute at a guy and a girl sitting up against a wall near the exit. He never stepped any closer, only shook his light harder.
Just a few feet away from him, a guy that was wearing gloves with bright lights at the fingertips was doing intricate finger-tutting as a separate guy stood and watched. The security guard didn't seem to notice the irony.
2. Here's how I know that the universe is a thinking, considerate thing: Tickets were $40 for general admission and $50 for V.I.P. access. V.I.P.s were allowed to go up to the second-story balcony and watch the show from there. One group of people up there was especially unlikeable*.
They were just too, too "Look At Me" smarmy. You know how that goes. But, like manna, a gift: Every 15 or so minutes, the smoke machines in Stereo Live would kick on, and one set of pipes was aimed right the fuck at them. It was beautiful. It was like they were getting gassed. And it's real hard to look cool in your little V.I.P. cubby when you're getting blasted in the face with nightclub smoke.
*Admittedly, that's an analysis that's based exclusively on looking at them for two minutes. It is not unreasonable to consider the possibility that they might be lovely dinner mates.
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Electronic Dance Music is a legit, thriving scene in Houston.