Review: ‘The Chemical Brothers’

The Chemical Brothers (Shrine Auditorium; 4,500 capacity; $ 18) Produced by Philip Blaine/Goldenvoice. Band: Tom Rowlands, Ed Simons. Reviewed May 10, 1997. On their first major U.S. tour, the Chemical Brothers --- currently at the crest of the wave of electronic, rhythmically oriented bands touted as the "next big thing" to replace sales-slumping alternative --- aren't an easy substitute for a traditional live band with singer. But without uttering a word, they did shake and rattle the cages of more than 4,000 fans with nearly two hours of techno, infused with megaton beats. UK beat chemists Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons madly twirled knobs and flipped switches to manipulate recorded tracks from behind a barricade of consoles and flashing equipment. Beats ebbed and flowed with the crowd, slowly building before crashing into furious, floor-shaking aural climaxes --- save one minor technical glitch, songs blended into one another without pause. Fans near the stage were caught in a spectacular crossfire of strobe lights and pulsing projections of firing canons, evil clowns and blinking eyes --- an elaborate production that was lost at the back of oblong floorspace. A mixed crowd ranging from pig-tailed rave gals in sparkle make-up to older mainstreamers underscored the act's crossover appeal, which has led to the duo's second LP, "Dig Your Own Hole" (Astralwerks) shipping 350,000 units since its April release. But not all were comfortable with a live show that dispenses with artist charisma and rapport. Rather than just dance and get caught up in the sensory overload experience, many looked like they were waiting for something to happen, straining to keep their eyes on the barely illuminated faces of the Brothers. A tweaked version of their current single, "Block Rockin' Beats" by far caused the biggest stir, suggesting that for now, concert-goers still want tangible songs and stage personalities to focus on. --- David Wollock

The Chemical Brothers (Shrine Auditorium; 4,500 capacity; $ 18) Produced by Philip Blaine/Goldenvoice. Band: Tom Rowlands, Ed Simons. Reviewed May 10, 1997. On their first major U.S. tour, the Chemical Brothers — currently at the crest of the wave of electronic, rhythmically oriented bands touted as the “next big thing” to replace sales-slumping alternative — aren’t an easy substitute for a traditional live band with singer. But without uttering a word, they did shake and rattle the cages of more than 4,000 fans with nearly two hours of techno, infused with megaton beats. UK beat chemists Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons madly twirled knobs and flipped switches to manipulate recorded tracks from behind a barricade of consoles and flashing equipment. Beats ebbed and flowed with the crowd, slowly building before crashing into furious, floor-shaking aural climaxes — save one minor technical glitch, songs blended into one another without pause. Fans near the stage were caught in a spectacular crossfire of strobe lights and pulsing projections of firing canons, evil clowns and blinking eyes — an elaborate production that was lost at the back of oblong floorspace. A mixed crowd ranging from pig-tailed rave gals in sparkle make-up to older mainstreamers underscored the act’s crossover appeal, which has led to the duo’s second LP, “Dig Your Own Hole” (Astralwerks) shipping 350,000 units since its April release. But not all were comfortable with a live show that dispenses with artist charisma and rapport. Rather than just dance and get caught up in the sensory overload experience, many looked like they were waiting for something to happen, straining to keep their eyes on the barely illuminated faces of the Brothers. A tweaked version of their current single, “Block Rockin’ Beats” by far caused the biggest stir, suggesting that for now, concert-goers still want tangible songs and stage personalities to focus on. — David Wollock

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