Five things I learned at the Virtual Self show last weekend at The Armory in Minneapolis:
1. The person behind Virtual Self is the same one that is behind Porter Robinson, but Virtual Self’s music does not sound like Porter Robinson’s music. You know when you’re mad and you have to type something, and you really want to just hammer away at the keys and take your aggression out on the keyboard? It feels like patiently writing out your feelings is Porter Robinson, while mashing away at the keys is Virtual Self. The music is still good, but gone are the large, swooning cinematic moments, replaced by heavy, throbbing, in-your-face trance.
2. Some of the music he played was not his own. This was to be expected, considering the only official release by Virtual Self consists of five songs. I’ve since confirmed that some of the music was, in fact, music from Dance Dance Revolution. I suspect there may have been some Final Fantasy material as well, albeit processed through a blender and set to 140 bpm.
3. I’m not convinced that I would go to another Virtual Self show again. It felt like Porter was scratching an itch, listening to music that his typical crowds that flocked to see his ‘Worlds’ production likely would not appreciate. As a result, and I realize I’m projecting, but it felt a little like you gave the aux cable to the wrong person who would play thirty seconds of a song, change his mind and play another song for two minutes, then change it again, each time getting progressively more frantic with a steadily increasing BPM. But, you know, some people love that guy.
4. His lighting production probably achieves about a billion watts when everything is at max power, which should probably never happen. I haven’t seen lasers of that magnitude outside of Coachella. I mean, these things really had nuts. Perched in the middle of a transparent stage with about three feet between that and the next layer down, was Porter, standing at a simple desk with what appeared to be a basic gear setup. At the start of the show, a computerized voice introduced part one of Virtual Self, punctuated by a circle of vertical light streaming from the stage to the Armory’s ceiling. Once the lasers kicked in, the entire venue was bathed in green light, and it means a lot when the sound is at that high of a level, but you can still hear everybody in the crowd gasp in awe all at once. There were more of those to come throughout the show.
5. The Armory is the Twin Cities’ best new venue and easily in the top three of all area venues. It’s a beautiful hangar-style space, large enough to accommodate large productions like Virtual Self and recently, Deadmau5 and the insanity of X-Games, along with pristine sound reinforcement, and a friendly, hands-off staff, I can’t recommend hitting up this venue enough. Go see a show at The Armory. You will thank me!
I work, live and play in Minneapolis.
I try to tell the story of the people that create music and experiences through pictures as well as through words.