Gold Panda Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, October 8

Gold Panda Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, October 8
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It's impossible to talk about Gold Panda's Toronto show without first mentioning Slow Magic, one of the most energetic opening acts to ever warm a crowd. Sporting a range of dials and knobs, two parts of a live drum kit and a multicolored neon mask, he demolished any preconceptions of a support act's duties. Drumming and button bashing with untold fervor, his set was about as lively as they come and all the while seeming mostly off the cuff. Slow Magic seemed so improvised that at times he even allowed random members of the crowd to hammer away on his MPC. For his closer, he was joined onstage by two more masked accomplices, who didn't have quite as impressive headgear but still managed to equal Slow Magic in enthusiasm.

When Gold Panda finally emerged on stage he grabbed a mic and simply said "I'm Gold Panda, I don't have any drums." Aside from a few thank yous, these were his only words for the night, but he hardly needed them with such a flawless array of tunes on his belt. First on the list was "We Work Nights," but it was quickly overshadowed by "Brazil," the highlight of his most recent album, Half of Where You Live. The track was teased in with an intro full of twisted echoes before he unleashed the bassline, which signaled the beginning of an hour and half-long dance session.

For a minute, it seemed like Gold Panda may have prematurely peaked by dropping one of his most thumping tunes so early in the set, but this proved to be a gross miscalculation considering just how exuberant the rest of the gig was. As if just to prove us wrong, "Vanilla Minus" then pounded out of the Lee's Palace speakers, complete with a full subsonic onslaught and simply destroyed by filters. If there's one thing that differs between Gold Panda's recordings and his live sets, it's the amount of effects that each song is squeezed through and manipulated by. Any electronic artist can set up a laptop and replicate their songs on stage, but Gold Panda adds serious weight to his performance by showing sides to those songs that you never get to see on record. A prime example of this behavior was evident on "Junk City II," which was injected with so much added gusto that it was in danger of taking off into the atmosphere entirely at one point.

As the set rose and rose, he reached a pinnacle with "Community." He then cut the track dead, mid-song, before launching straight into one of his early classics, "You," much to the delight of the crowd. To some, this seemed like the perfect finish and for a moment looked like it might be, as Gold Panda left the stage, but anyone following his recent activities was expecting "If U Knew (Reprise Long Live Take)" from his forthcoming Reprise EP. Sure enough, he didn't disappoint and returned to play it for his encore. Despite the fact that this was indeed the ultimate closing track, Gold Panda just couldn't help himself and threw in "Quitters Raga" for the road.