I’m a little late getting to Boston for the show. My little brother, who’s navigating, directs me right into the throng of Red Sox fans congregating around Fenway Park (in the middle of the street) for a night game.
“Are we near the venue?” I ask, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel, frustrated and aching from the four hours I’ve spent in the vehicle.
“Right down the street,” he says, pointing to the road block BPD has erected for masses of loitering Bo Sox fans.
I’m about to slam the accelerator and flatten the crowd, to speed the process, but I think better of it, and instead find myself pitying the 20-somethings headed into Fenway.
“To think,” I say, smirking to my brother “these people are going to miss a real show.”
Minutes later, I’m at the House of Blues, (stupid luck affords near parking) and making my way into concert hall, where Feed Me has already taken the stage. I open the doors, and my smirk stretches to full extent, mimicking that of John Gooch, and the iconic toothy grin of his Feed Me character.
The teeth set is similar to years past, but a few lightboard panels have been added behind the grin itself, adding extra dimension to the scenes that play out within. Each track brings on new visuals, some of which I recognize from the Royale last year, but they hardly play out in the same way on the Psychedelic Journey tour, as they are subject to direct manipulations from lighting controllers.
Despite the thrall of the “Teeth”, in the early minutes of the set, the crowd seems a bit dazed as Feed Me works his way through some older dubstep, (“Abel”). They soon snap to attention as the the tempo increases with stabs of his new electrohouse, from the Psychedelic Journey EP (“Alarm Clock”), and go into full on rage when he mixes into the classic “The Spell.”
Here the show really begins, as Feed Me works through a set weighted with tracks from his latest releases, which he dropped during his touring hiatus- Calamari Tuesday, but moreover, The Psychedelic Journey EP, around which he structures the mix. Of course, the set list isn’t all old hat, some unreleased material is intermingled with the familiar, notably a booming trap tune that goes over as a crowd favorite.
While his skill as a producer is beyond reproach, Feed Me is equally adept in the live manifestations of his creations both in terms of their visual representation, and alternative mix for the dance floor. We don’t hear the typical skips and misfires we’ve come to expect from the post-dubstep producer turned DJ on his twenty date tour, or the lazy, stale regurgitation of a track characteristic of the press-play DJ: “One Click Headshot” is slower, “Dazed” crosses “Embers”. Tracks are coordinated to govern the pace of the show, which varies extensively between transition from extensive, ambient builds, to quick, unexpected transition. As an outspoken critic of the aforementioned DJ archetypes, Gooch upholds the highest standards for his performances on tour, coordinating the real creative fire of his original productions with rapid-fire mixing.
While I can commend the Feed Me show in regards to sheer execution, there are certain elements which I feel, deserve some mild criticism, or at least, questioning. Some will write my off my qualms as simple matters of taste, but after seeing crowd reactions and listening to individual perspectives from the Big Adventure era on, I feel confident in making an assertion of objective derision here.
It seems that Feed Me followers are split between two camps: those who get down with the more poppy, melodic dubstep he’s dabbled in (usually with a female vocalist) and those who don’t. Calamari Tuesday especially came under fire from the latter group, who bemoaned the album’s lack of dark and dirty complextro, which had been an exceptional, key component of earlier releases (Big Adventure, Escape from Electric Mountain, To The Stars) . In fact, back in 2010, Big Adventure could have essentially been re-released at a later date under the moniker, “Greatest Complextro of 2010”, and no one would have been the wiser. I’m not as simple as to suggest Gooch has since increased his aspirations to poppier production for greater mainstream appeal. I will however offer that this side of his production intrinsically has greater mainstream appeal, and as such, is spun more on tour. (Or at least, on the American leg.) Dark and dirty complextro loses out.
I find this frustrating at the House of Blues show, for after the early excitement of the “Alarm Clock/The Spell” mix, and the “One Click Headshot drop”, my attention drifts as Feed Me winds into slower, lethargic dubstep. This material, tracks like “Ebb and Flow”, or “Cloudburn” with their creamy vocal sections, flood the mix, and succeed in stymieing the energy of the show for me.
It’s true, I’m a member of the aforementioned latter camp of Feed Me followers, my disinterest in the melodic dubstep tracks stems from what I can imagine the Feed Me character doing, in a sort of physical abstract sense. For example, I can imagine a little green monster playing an electro harpsichord, escaping from an “Electric Mountain”, or blasting into space on a cobbled rocket of his own design. I cannot however imagine a little green monster in a studio, sitting in on piano roll for a female vocalist. I just can’t suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy those sections of the mix.
Still, one can’t help but tread through the poppy vocals that are sometimes component of a Feed Me track, for the heavy electro breakdown that’s sure to follow. Beyond any minor detraction I’ve here leveled, Gooch and his “Teeth” are a first rate show.
Electronic music is the only art form that has given me unrelenting hope for the survival of our species. I study criticism in the north country and track the scene in an effort to put to words the familiar feelings that escape most of us and are reduced to terms of “awesomeness.”