On Sunday night, the Glitch Mob brought an outdated set to the Joy Theater, but its problems didn't end there.
Before The Glitch Mob could begin its set at the Joy Theater on Sunday night, the fire alarm rang out and caused a one hour delay to the late-night set. Once the Mob was cleared to play, the crowd was quickly revived as the group unveiled an impressive rig and began to play. Each member, (Ooah, Boreta, and edIT) had a Mad Max-like stand with a mixer, and four tablets arranged in a glowing rectangle that faced the audience. They used these machines to great effect and with flourish, as a series of drums that looked like turbines loomed behind them.
Unfortunately, The Glitch Mob used its futuristic setup to play much of its oldest music. The aggressive grittiness that is prevalent throughout Piece of the Indestructible EP and its recent collaboration with Metallica was completely absent. It was disappointing that the group should play many of the same songs it performed at NYC’s Terminal 5 in 2011 because the show could have been dramatic and polarizing. Instead, it felt halfhearted.
The tablets that faced the audience created another problem Sunday night as it quickly became apparent that the artists were hitting cues in a continuous left-to-right sequence. That became a monotonous ritual that cheapened the intricate melodies, and in a few instances, appeared to be nothing more than show. At one point, Boreta struck his drum in a pattern unrelated to the sounds that came through the theater’s speakers. It was an affront--an assumption of naiveté, that the tablets’ screens should face the audience so plainly.
Lazy performances like this contribute heavily to EDM detractors who joke that DJs do little more than read their email and update social media while on stage. Furthermore, The Mob’s apparent mimicry of triggering live sounds casts undeserved doubt on talented electronic producers such as Robert DeLong and Madeon, who use pads and controllers to create their music in real-time onstage.
I’ve loved The Glitch Mob since 2009, but its set was deeply disheartening. It lacked the courage and creativity that have been the group’s hallmarks, and lent ammunition to those who believe DJs are paid millions to push "play.”