The Knitting Factory, NYC, USA (August 24-25, 2000)
The event was held at Knitting Factory—a mid-sized venue with a balcony. The performers were close to the edge of the stage and hence close to the audience, so there was a feeling that it was an intimate show. Immersion's set was first, followed by a DJ set by Alex Patterson.
Colin and Malka's well-considered set began with the mellow synthesiser loops of their excellent Low Impact disc. With their backs to the audience, they played synth loops for the first ten minutes of the performance, as photographs taken by Malka were projected on a large screen. As the set progressed, more motion was introduced to both the music and visuals. Colin and Malka turned around to face the audience, strapped on their guitars and launched into guitar-fuelled compositions. The large bass bins were pumping, Colin and Malka were nodding hypnotically, and the audience was doing the same. The trance seemed to have taken effect. Visually, the still photos gave way to loops of trains, planes, places and faces. The visuals they create, like their music, use loops to hypnotise the audience. Eventually, Malka began singing, adding another element to the performance. Visually, I accented her singing by projecting a pulsating cloud of white light over her head like a kind of spotlight or halo when her voice was heard.
From a very simple static beginning, the performance gained momentum and complexity. Colin and Malka's video complimented their sound very nicely, and palpably manifested Swim's aesthetic. The audience was very responsive, and enjoyed themselves a great deal. An encore was demanded, and delivered, and everybody got down to heavy-ass beats. By the end of the set it was no longer clear who had come to see Immersion and who had come to see Alex because everybody was hopping up and down. Like the Knitting Factory show the previous year, this set was a lot of fun and well-received.
The Alex Patterson set was also a good time, an altogether less minimal, more hyper affair. He was spinning an eclectic mix of his own Orb compositions (some of them not yet out on an album), Latin Kraftwerk covers, pure electronica, dancehall reggae, and four-on-the-floor boomboombooming. The obligatory Cowgirl by Underworld showed up, of course, and the audience responded as most audiences do when DJs spin that record—they went crazy. Alex seemed to be enjoying himself, doing a bit of wacky frontman mugging to the audience, which the audience enjoyed as well. Even though he was doing a DJ set, he was still front and centre, performing for the audience as he mixed records and tweaked echo effects. I supplied shifting visual textures to match the shifting audio textures he chose, and the synergy between the two was quite tasty, in my not so unbiased opinion!
Alex played a very long set, a couple of hours, and the audience looked pleasantly drained at the end from all the dancing. I was pleasantly drained from two hours of challenging quick-evolving video mixing. It was all in all a very enjoyable show, and far more entertaining than television!