On some, like, cosmic level it makes sense that Daniel Lopatin's cyberpunk noisemaking project Oneohtrix Point Never was in Baltimore the same week as Brokencyde, an Albuquerque-based sort of boy band cranking out a candy-colored clusterfuck of crunk, nu-metal, and EDM (Thursday night at Ottobar) and Wagnerian feelingz-pop hero Carly Rae Jepsen (tomorrow night at Soundstage). All three acts are on the same maximalist spectrum, even if they appeal to fairly different audiences and one of them is considered profoundly uncool. No matter, it's all music powered by too much of everything.
Plus, 0PN's Tuesday show at the Ottobar was the same night maximalist candidate for president Donald Trump won Florida, which all but solidifies that he is the Republican candidate, Jesus fucking Christ.
Before I walked over to the Ottobar to see the show, I winced through Marco Rubio's concession speech, which seemed to represent a rare, sympathetic burst of reasonableness from the right. In terms of personality and appeal, Rubio's the Obama of the right and he probably could beat Hillary Clinton, but nah, he's out because he is a humane world-fucker, not a soulless monstrous world-fucker. Not long into Rubio's concession speech, a Trump supporter briefly heckled him, which is a very special kind of assholism: Kick the "losers" even when they're down and literally conceding. I thought of a recent tweet by 0PN that read "HE LIVES WE SLEEP" and was accompanied by a photo of a twist-faced Trump yelling.
So, I got super high and did some poppers and walked over to the show, which had a One Direction-level line out front (the show was delayed, 0PN was late). I was stuck in line right in front of two clearly very smart and thoughtful white boys who were discussing Chicago, specifically the South Side, very loudly—the way smart, thoughtful whites do. They framed the violence-wracked part of the city as the result of the deindustrialization of the midwest, which is totally true, but they never mentioned race and segregation in Chicago. Specifically, I'd say, that tearing down housing projects displaced gangs and assisted in building new turf wars and so on, which had the effect of fracturing and fucking up an already fractured and fucked up area of the city. And yeah sure, it got that way in part because of deindustrialization, but the so-called "black belt" was established long before factories shut down.
Were these guys Bernie Bros? If they were not, they certainly were in spirit: straight white dudesplainers with a staggering ability to misunderstand the role of race in economic terror. That is way better than Trump's klan of supporters, but it is still so confidently clueless that I got no time for it.
All of this has something or other to do with Oneohtrix Point Never's album, "Garden of Delete" I promise: It's the sort of album that has something or other to do with everything in the air if you're thinking hard enough (or are high enough). 0PN's Ottobar show almost entirely relied on tracks from "Garden of Delete," which is about a kind impending, ineffable yet omnidirectional dread. That's how it feels right now in the United States and has for awhile now. As I said in the paper last year, 0PN's "Garden Of Delete" is "like hearing all the pretty EDM-ish music out there right now being eaten, digested, and diarrheaed out by all the ugly music of the recent past: nu-metal, hardstyle, noise, free jazz, etc." And there is, in its heady electronic noise, plenty of musical miscegenation too, which is nice: Detroit techno and T-Pain's vocoder moans and DJ Premier's brass knuckle hip-hop drums and the noodling of jazz-fusion all pop up on these songs.
The live set-up featured strobe lights and two tall, thin LCD screens on each side of the stage projecting three-dimensionally rendered weirdness and occasionally, just flashing and glitching—it was kind of like a noise show inside of the Nostromo from "Alien" after Ripley sets it to self-destruct. 0PN essentially constructed 12-inch remixes of "Garden of Delete" tracks, stretching them out a bit, letting the excited, rave-y parts play a little longer. It was kind of a flipped-inside-out version of a big rock 'n' roll show with people screaming and clapping in recognition when he played the menacing 'I Bite Through It' and a few singing along to the song's hard-to-decipher, half-ironic sad, doofy teen madlib lyrics ("If you're cold and you can't feel/ You might find/ You've already died/ All of these weird objects/ Are reflections of you"). When Loptain teased one of the strange chirps that makes up 'Sticky Drama,' everyone anticipated its "drop"—an askew, hiccuping drop but a drop nonetheless. And then that drop was answered with unsettling strobe lights and a displacing synths.
The bass hurt at times, which is the sign to party harder in Baltimore, ground zero for Bmore club, though this was not how what this Baltimore audience thought. But "Garden of Delete" is totally a dance record, and had this show been at the Crown instead of the Ottobar, or hell, on the second floor of the Ottobar, or just somewhere where the idea of dance music is more nuanced and strange, then it could've been some like, evil Skrillex show or something. Instead, you got a room full of people staring forward as Daniel Lopatin howled into a heavily distorted microphone, fiddling with gear that was in a case that looked like a mix between a prop from "Universal Soldier" and the pain box from "Dune," and guitarist Nate Boyce (also responsible for the show's uncanny valley visuals), let chugging, butt-rock riffs fly. The track 'Freaky Eyes,' which jumps from horror movie church organ to an increasingly zooted chipmunk'd vocal, was accompanied by slowed down and melting visuals. It was legitimately uprooting.
So okay, who could blame everyone for just staring ahead dead-eyed? Maybe the potential reality of a Trump-run U.S.A. was just finally sinking in and it kept everybody stoic and terrified.Copyright © 2019, Baltimore City Paper