BT, Hooverphonic, La Zona Rosa, September 28

Live Shots

BT, Hooverphonic

La Zona Rosa, September 28

There comes a time when what was born underground slowly slips out of our collective, so-cool grasp and warps into a more palatable, facile format. Whether you want to admit it or not, Elvis begat Fabian as sure as the Sex Pistols' sonic jizz-stream stank its way downward to Green Day. So, apparently, it goes without leavening any irony whatsoever, that BT has become the Bad Company of electronic music. This despite an increasingly anxious music media's attempts to portray him as either the second coming of Moby, or on the other hand, someone who matters. Clinching the idea I'd formed of BT-as-George Dubya-metaphor since he last played Austin (with the Crystal Method, two years ago, same venue) was his live band, which supplied the grins 'n' yackels while BT aerobically hoofed it behind an impressively flexible bank of keyboards and lighting crud. Arms outstretched and snappy-pumpin' fists clenched in A) victory, B) triumph, and C) orgiastic delight at all the mad loot rollin' his way, Brian Transeau, who never met a funkily mysterious bass line he couldn't remeld in his own frothy image, played the hits and nothing but. That in itself is not a bad thing by any stretch. We all love the hits, really we do. But BT's performance -- with a snarling, spotty Reznor-type to his right and a brutish axe-walloper to his left -- was pure rock & roll pandering, as punctilious and loaded with unintended cruel intent as a Falwell sermon. Like punk, or any previously underground musical substrata with the smarts to try and stay out of sight as long as possible, electronica -- DJ culture itself -- seems to be lessened in stature proportionate to its mainstream success. The bigger the event, the more transparent the emperor's clothes appear to be. With BT, it was almost, but not quite, hidden in the glare of his manic, surf-dawg smile and cheery, good-natured bootifying, but I kept heading back to the bar for another beer, and my ass only danced when someone sidled too close with a lit one. Belgian-based Hooverphonic, on their second femme-fatale singer with third Epic outing The Magnificent Tree, only served to prove my long-held theory that leggy, gamine Nico-teens can't carry a live set to save their lives. Despite a brilliant, post-Portishead take on all things dank and beaty, they failed to live up to the loungemusique turf that instantly manifests itself on a better pair of Sennheisers. Blue gels and fog do not a rapturous teleportation of audience and band make, no matter how many verses of "In-A-Gada-Da-Vida" you cover. Screw this noise. I'm going to find the nearest undiscovered DJ and make sure he stays that way.

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