Longwalkshortdock The Imperial, Vancouver BC, March 27

Longwalkshortdock The Imperial, Vancouver BC, March 27
Photo: Joshua Peter Grafstein
It's been four years since the last Longwalkshortdock album came out, since 2011's Bigger Fish Frying followed up his 2009 debut, Casual Tea, so to see Dave King at the hometown release party for his third full-length, Squashing Machine, was quite an occasion. What's more, despite his relatively sparse catalogue, Longwalkshortdock proved himself again to be one of the hardest working and humble artists in electronic music with this incredible set.
Entering the Imperial's foyer through the gnarled mouth of the squashing machine from Tara Handelman's cover art, it was muggy as hell, with a sprinkling of Shambhala dust in the air. The atmosphere was enhanced by a robot costume recommendation, the crowd dotted with boxes painted silver and accented with lights and antennae alongside the cardboard masks handed out at the merch booth; one patron's head and jacket were glued solid with Lego. King himself appeared wearing a massive robot helmet and wiggling long tube finger gloves. This would be the slowest he would move throughout his two-hour set.
Stripped down to his usual shorts and t-shirt, the NASA sticker prominently displayed on the laptop topping his monumental rack, he got to work Kaoss-tweaking, funky keyboard jamming, high jumping, head-banging, fist-pumping and letting loose his distinctive affected vocals that grey the area between a vulnerable falsetto and tortured howl. Situated within a dome of screens in an Amon Tobin-esque fashion, King delivered his vocals into a miked shark hand puppet.
This was not an easy show for King. He admitted his stress several times throughout the set, which he spent weeks working on, and claimed he nearly losing his mind trying to get his album finished, ever questioning if he should just throw the whole thing away and start again. However, right from the start, from the beginning of "I'm Forgetful," the first track from Squashing Machine, it was clear his many efforts had paid off. There are many killer tracks on his new album, undeniably his best-produced work yet, and each them was tweaked out for that much more added punch in the live setting.

His set list went well beyond the album, though, showcasing a plethora of styles, from brutal techno to downtempo breaks and liquid sci-fi drum and bass — even a little electro-funk, in "Last Crawl." He dropped a remix of Glass Candy's "Digital Versicolor" from Nicolas Winding Refn's 2008 film Bronson, a track that started off as a joke before he ended up liking it enough to play live, and turned his sublime ballad "Find Me Where I'm Hiding (Ravers Requiem)" from Bigger Fish Frying, into a jazzy drum & bass number, retaining its introspective beauty while shoving it into the middle of the dance floor.
Combined with the most epic visuals RimVisuals has yet crafted, featuring montages of Japanese commercials, spaceman King shooting lasers blasts at the crowd, red pulsating tentacles, tormented King pawing at his face, animated cover art, sacred geometry and much more perfectly timed weirdness, Longwalkshortdock guaranteed a trip to all patrons, regardless of their personal drug intake.