REVIEW: MACHINEDRUM AT THE TROUBADOUR

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As Travis Stewart strutted onto the Troubadour’s stage with a red guitar, it would be easy to confuse him for a rock star–doubly so after the night’s two electropop opening acts. But it’s apparent that he’s something entirely different as soon as the music starts: drums worthy of the night’s aggressive Red Bull branding, keys that would fit into the locked grooves of a house DJ set and–yes–that guitar picking away. This blend of ingredients isn’t surprising, as Stewart’s work as Machinedrum has fused the sexy strains of R&B, pulverizing rhythms of jungle and breakneck speed of footwork to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

 

At the Troubadour performance, he was celebrating the release of his ambitious and well received LP, Vapor City. With drummer (and old collaborator) Lane Darrington at his side, Machinedrum expertly chopped up samples and his own live guitar work, played flowing bass lines and let his (surprisingly great) vocals work together to bring Vapor City to life. Visuals by the influential UK-based label and design group LuckyMe provided the backdrop, as they showed glitched-out landscapes depicting each of the record’s tracks, similar to the video for lead single “Eyesdontlie.”

The set’s pacing became more and more frenetic as it went past the album cuts into a world that walked between a wild, party-rocking DJ set and a more polished “live” set. BPMs ticked upwards, both for the tunes and for the audiences’ heart rate as Machinedrum unleashed older tracks from the Room(s) EP and other various remixes (including this corker from San Francisco-based EPROM) Darrington admirably kept pace. People danced harder, screamed louder and basically freaked out. When the house lights went up at the end of the night, people were still riding high from energy and trying to piece together what they had just witnessed: Live set? DJ set? Button-pushing? Debates aside, Machinedrum definitely rocked the crowd and made them dance.

RECAP: HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR AT REDBULL SOUND SELECT

When one associates RedBull and music, it’s usually with bands that are indie, edgy, and active. The latest edition of the RedBull Sound Select series really flipped the switch. At a packed house in West Hollywood, east side kids poured in to the Troubadour to get weird and dance all night to house, nu-disco, and R&B.

After salutations, the vibe instantly turned sensual and smooth as Rare Times opened the bill. The LA-based outfit has earned buzz for fusing silky, alt-R&B vocals over moody synthesized tracks. They played favorites like “Sirens Calling” and “Watched Over”- the latter being their most convincing and energetic performance. With much anticipation of their upcoming EP, hopefully the young duo’s live set can further evolve.

The series progressed with the spacey synth-pop sounds of Oh Boy Les Mecs, the group consisting of Mec and leading lady, Tracy Marcellino. She took the stage with messy long hair and a Bjork-esque fluffy, ruffled jacket. Main man, Hanford Pittman, appeared burly and ready to slay – like a Southern hardcore rocker. As if from some dark delirium, the pair creepily and confidently banged out hits like “Unrest” on synths atop of LED tables that lit up in various shades, which added greater stimulation to their live show.

Headlining the night was house/disco collective Hercules & Love Affair, their first performance in LA in 3 years. Fronted by dance music champion, Andy Butler. The NYC based project features a fluctuating cast of music vets who are able to hit high notes and revel across stage like schoolchildren. They performed timeless tracks such as “My House” and “Do You Feel The Same,” steering attendees into a dance frenzy. More insanity ensued when the ensemble invited the audience to party with them on stage.

The highlight of the night was pride of the East Side / Rhonda royalty: DJ Goddollars. He seamlessly curated cohesion between the event’s 3 different acts, while still keeping the party going for attendees.

The next edition of RedBull Sound Select is scheduled for November 21st, for only $3 bucks! RSVP to get your name, first come first served, on the list here.