Gold Panda – The Ruby Lounge, Manchester 15/11/2010

Review by Peter Rea

Gold PandaThe Manchester gig scene is spoiled for choice tonight. For a Monday the line up is truly epic. This may go some way to explaining the lack of heads in The Ruby Lounge tonight. Gold Panda (Derwin) is deservedly receiving heavy praise for his debut album which is likely to feature in many album of the year lists, but it appears that’s not enough to prize alternative dance fans away from LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip at The Apollo.

The venue is a bizarre arrangement. If it were full to capacity, three quarters of the crowd wouldn’t be able to see a thing. The choice of supports confuse also, Ghost Eyes are distinctive only because of the Star Wars-esque breathe pipe that’s attached to the keyboard. Saint Etienne’s ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ springs to mind, as do the Gorillaz. Banjo Or Freakout play an eclectic and impressive set, blending Spirtualized, Pavement and elements of Doves.

The guy from the merchandise stand, who said hello while we were looking at the t-shirts, sets up his laptop and electrical gadgets while we’re treated to some reggae. Gold Panda’s set-up is minimal and occupies not enough space. His green hoodie hood is up as he gets to work selecting samples and beats. He starts with some deep pads and the distinctive high-pitched Asian influenced key stabs, which distinguish his sound to that of the likes of Four Tet. Eventually, a heavy 4/4 Born Slippy beat kicks in. If this were a dance night like The Warehouse Project for example, the crowd would be jumping right now.

Gold Panda 2The sounds from the album ‘Lucky Shiner’ are gradually triggered and edited together to create a truly live, experimental experience. He nods the entire upper half of his body as he phases, pitch-bends and pans. The volume is incredible but the gear momentarily manages to cope with the demand, giving an undistorted crisp sound that allows you to immerse yourself. ‘You’ kicks in and I decide it’s worth standing this close, even if it makes my tinnitus worse. A lightshow or other visuals distractions aren’t present but aren’t missed. Closing my eyes or staring into space seems a comfortable option under the circumstances.

The set slows and the urge to dance fades just as it was becoming irresistible. The perfect beat had been replaced with a flabby bass blast that carries the resonant frequency of everything in the immediate vicinity. ‘India Lately’ would’ve been hedonistic if my head wasn’t involuntarily vibrating. Tunes are stopped abruptly revealing brief and shocking silence before Gold Panda’s voice politely and rather comically says “thank you”. Enthusiastic applause is edged with feelings of relief, having survived the audio assault with functioning ears.

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