The Glitch Mob | 08.24.10

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Two massive panels of LED lights flash to life and begin to flicker and pulse along with a bass line so powerful you can actually feel your internal organs vibrating.


The Blue Note, Columbia, Mo.
The Glitch Mob’s live show is intense. Three guys walk onstage in a room that’s pitch black and packed wall-to-wall. At first you can see the glow of their computer monitors, and that’s about it. The set begins with a low, growling hum that seems to be increasing the air pressure in the room. Just when you feel like your ears might start popping, the machines onstage belch out a string of epic synth tones resembling some cross between a pipe organ hooked up to 3,000-watt amps and evacuation sirens on the planet Krypton. Two massive panels of LED lights flash to life and begin to flicker and pulse along with a bass line so powerful you can actually feel your internal organs vibrating. This might be painful if it didn’t sound so completely awesome.
With the stage lit up, you can see the trio controlling this sonic machine: Justin Boreta (Boreta), Ed Ma (edIT) and Josh Mayer (Ooah). Their entire bodies are bouncing with the beat. Their arms are rapidly stretching, crisscrossing and undulating in front of them as they trigger each note.
Live, the Glitch Mob recreates parts of their full-length album, Drink the Sea, as well as incorporating playful elements from their recently released mixtape, Drink the Sea II. In doing so, the guys use software and its accompanying tools in a way that challenges the traditional idea of what it means to play live music. The sounds they create are coming from computers, but these guys are, without a doubt, playing instruments onstage. Using bright touch-screens, their hands tap out individual samples of multilayered tones, rebuilding each deconstructed track in real-time. But as visually mesmerizing as this process is, it’s difficult to concentrate on anything in the presence of the beat.
The beat at The Glitch Mob’s show can only be described using sci-fi metaphors. The beat is parasitic. It is a metallic alien, wiring itself around your spine like creeper vines. It is an army of microscopic robots, fanning out at the base of your skull, filling your head with their warm thrum. It takes over your body. It pounds in your chest. At some point you realize that you are absolutely, most definitely going to dance. Maybe you never dance; maybe you hate people who dance; maybe you have a crippling secret phobia that hinges on the thought that you might one day be seen in public, dancing. It’s really a moot point. By the time you can even think of these objections you’ll already be dancing, and loving it. | Taban Salem

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