August 19, 2011: Washington, DC
Dntel's "Life is Full of Possibilities" is the album that I credit for bringing full fledged electronica back into my life. Putting aside the electro-rock hybrids (e.g., Radiohead), Dntel's debut LP was the first electronic album that I loved since my Detroit rave days of the early/mid-90s. So, when it was announced, I jumped at the opportunity to see him--Jimmy Tamborello also from Postal Service--live.
The show was at the Red Palace on H Street in DC's rapidly go-to nightlife neighborhood. The venue was pretty small and unforunately for the bands, it never got all that full either. I do give high compliments to the venue for the acoustics, as well as what seemd to be a very good board-master in terms of the mixing.
In the end though, I think I was a little disappointed with the act. Given how much I like...love some of Dntel's recorded music, I walked away thinking "Was it really worth my money to have the original artist crossfade his music for me?" That probably sounds harsh and to any electronic musician it may reveal a good amount of my own ignorance. Still, as the music consumer, no matter how difficult it was to execute the set, it really seemed like his MacBookPro was doing the vast majority of the work. And my final counter point would be that he probably hasn't made the money he deserved from his music sales--so happy to pay my part.
And while I appreciate minimalism as a lifestyle, I feel like this show could have benefited from some visual perks--e.g., video installations--to make up for the other shortcomings. Even better though, integration of a few additional musicians to play some of the pre-recorded bits would have been great. I don't mean an "unplugged" show--just a few synths and maybe some percussions or something.
Unlike some other live performances that disappointed me though, this one for some reason isn't going to take away from my appreciation for the recorded version. Oh, and I would have liked a Dntel t-shirt. No such offering :(
If you like subtle, immersive, ambient music at night (perhaps for a train ride?), I really recommend LIfe is Full of Possibilities. His second LP, Dumb Luck, also has several good tracks, but the style is different--more accessible and poppy. Samples below.