I discovered Moped the day before the show.
As any of my readers know, I’m a diehard guitar based, power trio, rock ‘n roll mayhem kind of noise connoisseur, but I’ve been branching out lately into, of all things, the Chill station on satellite’s Sirius XM. It’s a matter of simple pragmatics. I can’t get any work done while I’m listening to anything with too many lyrics or a melody. It’s just too distracting. And you can forget about the usually tantalizing guitar solo – way too captivating. So seamless, nauseating Downtempo it is for most of my day.
So that’s what I’ve become (during the mean spirited work-aday period between 9 and 5) and I’ve quickly found rationalizations for this seemingly mindless, vapidly over-aged genre. “It’s the future of music,” I’ll find myself saying. “Yes, I know it’s a warmed over, passionless turd, but at least it’s trying to use modern instruments (sometimes) in a format that’s not always confined to the dance floor. It actually mixes nice new synthesizer technology with traditional analogue instruments and even strays into truly International and World sounds. Zoics! There’s no rules. If it grooves or glides or fits into a perfectly synched midi environment, and if it’s capable of infinite repeat without getting too annoying then pile it on.”
So, in this new inclusive, shiny and indoctrinated state of mind I came across the Myspace page for local the local duo, Moped and welcomed them with an open heart. I listened to their five songs at least five times as I was working on my new website and the friendly, unassuming sounds wafted over me like melted cheese. I got to the end and I pushed play again. The tunes are perfectly organized, with no sharp edges, a bit of humour thrown in from time to time. I heard the word “nipple” a couple of times but wasn’t challenged enough to endeavor a context. The songs pulsated and repeated and the cool sax leads positively nurtured my beleaguered soul.
They were playing the next night at Amnesia and I had to see how two guys could pull it off. I played the nipple song for my girl. She thought it was funny. I wondered what the hell I was thinking. Could all my years of ear splitting rock ‘n roll fetishism be proved wrong? Could a couple of knob twisters and multi instrumentalists create a program as vital as say, The Entrance Band or Wolfmother.
The answer is a resounding No.
The dudes are certainly talented. Moped is by far the best loop and laptop band I’ve ever seen, but when I saw that anodized aluminum clam-shell opened up for the first time my heart sank. My girl told me to get over it. She was more privy to the club scene and to all the attempts at “live” electronic music. She was experienced enough not to get her hopes up. She just wanted to hear the nipple song and move on with our lives.
The sounds came on as crisp as a pile of chopped up iceberg lettuce. The bass loops intensified. The video footage of a mother falcon weening her young in the nook above an austere human cemetery provided ample ironic edge and campiness. The live drumming was particularly inspired. The sax playing gorgeous enough for a Steely Dan song or even Van Morrison. The sounds of the 80′s resounded and the Cure’s “Lullaby” was the obvious and most inspired cover of the night.
We all held our collective breath for the nipple song. Elevator, from their new CD, listened to a total of 17 times on their Myspace page; at least 10 of which were by me and my girlfriend.
What have I come to expect?
Singer and multi instrumentalist, ____, grabbed the mic, pushed a play button on his powerbook and came to the front of the stage. The crowd, ample, moved closer to the front and started bobbing to the infectious rhythm. There came the climactic moment in the song, about a nerdy guy trying to hit on a strange woman in an elevator and didn’t know quite what to say. “I decided to keep it simple. I touched my nipple.”
The crowd went wild.
There’s really not much to say. If that’s what tends to make a crowd go wild these days, we’re in dire times indeed.
There’s really nothing wrong with loungey chill or warmed over cheese for that matter, it’s just not terribly compelling as a live endeavor. Many will continue to try. The likes of Thievery Corporation have turned turntableism into a valid cash cow, but where’s the intensity? Where’s the passion? It’s a calculated, laptop aesthetic that’s best left to your iPod earbuds.
Thanks for trying, Moped. I’ll still listen to you when I’m trying get something done at work.
Hey, baby. Ow!