This past Saturday night, at the behest of an old roommate, I strayed from my usual Controversy routine to check out EOTO at the El Rey. While I don’t usually frequent the Do LaB’s parties, it was definitely a trip to see another side of Los Angeles’ multifaceted electronic music scene. The last time I had been at the El Rey was for my high school’s homecoming, seeing it packed with nouveau-hippies and Burning Man types was definitely an interesting experience to say the least.
While the openers weren’t very memorable, I was extremely impressed by EOTO’s performance. The best thing about EOTO is that they aren’t your stereotypical “Producer/DJ” twisting knobs and flicking faders, it’s an actual band playing a live mish-mosh of dubstep and glitch. It was so refreshing to see an organic performance, a rare treat in the EDM world where you’re lucky to see a set that’s beatmatched live, let alone a performance with real instruments. Their stage production was also incredible, the “Lotus” which you can see in the Youtube video below, is a flower-like structure which had animations projected onto each of its petals throughout the show. The two bandmates, Michael Travis and Jason Hann are members of the famed jam band The String Cheese Incident, and started EOTO as an opening act. From what I could ascertain, the two bandmates sampled themselves live, shuffling through guitars, basses, and synthesizers as they crafted their grooves. The drummer was often playing with one hand, as he laid down vocals and threw on effects with a JazzMutant Lemur. These guys definitely are skilled musicians, but my one lament was that the band seemed sonically underdeveloped compared to a lot of other dubstep producers I’ve seen perform. Their sound seemed much more like a jam band who discovered EDM rather than a electronic producer who’s spent years locked in a studio. That being said, I wouldn’t really consider this a flaw but I can’t deny that the Croydon hooligan in me was left wanting more. What they lack in sound design they more than make up for with their organic, improvised performance.
The most interesting thing about the show was how unique the experience was in comparison to other club nights I frequent. The crowd felt like the ying to A Club Called Rhonda’s yang, a collection of dreadlocked “Burners” and beautiful hippie girls. I was one of the few flannel-clad individuals, definitely a rare occurrence. There was even a 50-year-old dude dressed in a golden cape chanting “afterparty in the desert!” as I was leaving the show. It’s so interesting how there’s this whole hippie-EDM scene developing in Southern California, with festivals like Lightening in a Bottle contrasting themselves against the HARD/Insomniac rave scene. I’m curious to see where this hippie scene goes next, it seems well on it’s way to becoming an organic alternative to the mainstream rave culture. I was definitely pleasantly surprised by EOTO, if their Bass Invaders Tour makes a stop in your city don’t sleep on it!