Squarepusher / Mount Kimbie
Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ON, November 2
Mount Kimbie started off slowly, using their initial few tracks to warm up as the crowd slowly filed in, but the duo hit their stride just a few tracks in. The disconnect between Kai Campos's hoodie-adorned head nodding away to his beats and Dominic Maker standing almost motionless while singing was enjoyable to watch, and the use of a live cymbal was a nice touch, adding some tension to the performance. Behind them, a slideshow of thousands of arty, amateur snapshots (like a rougher Martin Parr) played, rarely sitting on one photo for more than a second. Live post-punk-sounding guitar parts and some serious sub-bass livened up the performance further, as the set contained several new songs and worked upwards in a confident arc from its downtempo beginnings and to its more danceable end.
Photo: Vincent Pollard
As a drone marked his arrival, Squarepusher (aka Tom Jenkinson) walked onstage wearing his new signature Robocop-meets-Daft Punk visor. A girl in the crowd shouted "We love you!" to which Jenkinson replied, "I love you too." With three banks of LEDs fronting his "DJ table," one on his helmet's visor and one large screen behind him showing the same pulsating geometric images, it was quite the visual assault and made for a unique live experience. And Squarepusher seemed to be enjoying himself, cheering the crowd on every time they applauded.
As "Unreal Square" started to play, an oscillating circle appeared on screen, presenting a wry in-joke for anyone that cared to notice. A few tracks in, when what had been an upbeat set slowed down with "Red in Blue," another appropriate visual pun was used as the lights that had been white on a black background all night changed to red and blue for the sinister dirge. The respite was brief, however, and the beats picked up immediately after with the track's album successor, the acid-y "The Metallurgist." Following a brief pause, Jenkinson then played "Dark Steering," one of the stronger tracks from this year's Ufabulum album, which he played the majority of.
Working in plenty of his trademark IDM with jungle beats, visual presentation aside, it wasn't that different from what Squarepusher and his peers (namely Richard D. James, Mike Paradinas and Autechre) were doing in the mid-'90s, and in some ways, Jenkinson's new material and accompanying show are a return to the more purely electronic sound of Squarepusher in his prime. The substantial 20-something portion of the crowd showed that it wasn't just a heritage tour, but IDM is alive and well two decades later.
Visually stunning and superbly executed, the set did begin to plateau midway, through, which Jenkinson remedied by bringing out his trusty bass for several tracks, including an improvised bass piece that had a lot of the crowd clapping and pogoing.
Already a 90-minute set pre-encore, Jenkinson came back onstage, sans visor, with his bass guitar for several more tracks, including another unfamiliar bass piece and a stellar rendition of "A Journey to Reedham," which ended the set brilliantly with its frenetic lasers-on-spring-break meltdown. This was followed by the delicate and brief, jazzy lullaby of "SEB-1.01," making the perfect way to say goodnight.
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