TVD Live: Shpongle at Minglewood Hall, 4/11

If you ever want to know the proper relationship between color and sound, Shpongle isn’t a bad place to start.

The Shpongle live experience is an assortment of gigantic visuals over hypnotic music. The combination results in a strange mixture that confuses the senses. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines synesthesia as a subjective sensation of a sense other than the one being stimulated. When one sees Shpongle, it’s hard to avoid this sensation.

This past Wednesday, I was slated to see Simon Posford perform as Shpongle at Minglewood Hall. As I arrived to get Shpongled, Phuture Primitive was jamming out to English psuedo-dubstep grooves as the crowd swayed to the given beat. Phuture Primitive’s sounds were educated and calculated; no gritty or loose beats here. Tracks arranged with surgical precision dropped left and right like bombs on the audience. His tight and commanding sound was defined during the final track of his set, a remix of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” to which the crowd exploded with energy.

As he cleared the stage, the floor chattered in excitement for the coming Shpongling. It didn’t take long for Posford himself to come on stage. Phuture Primitive’s set broke down revealing Shpongle’s very visual display just as he launched into his first track.

The stage itself was shaped like a distorted king’s crown of projector screens. Images of differing trippy aesthetics were launched onto the screen, giving the off-the-wall music surreal imagery ranging from a psychedelic pinball machine to overtly colorful solar systems.

The music of Shpongle is a macaronic expression of sound. Locked grooves were the vehicle for various styles and genres to drive through the mix. Samples or renditions of Latin, Middle-Eastern, and Eastern music all made choice appearances among the wall of sound. These unexpected aural additions flowed well into the mix and have a symbiotic relationship with the strange and foreign nature of the visuals. The relationship between the music and its ocular counterpart came across as a singular artistic statement in and of itself.

Shpongle rules his crowd like Ash Ketchum commands his loyal pokemon. As important as the massive visual display may have been, Posford was the central focus for most attendees in the audience. The crowd cheered when he raised his arms and danced feverishly when he smiled; they held back when he began to herald a drop, and thusly exploded when he let the beat hit. When “Divine Moments of Truth” was unleashed onto the hungry crowd, uproarious “woots” and “yeahs” flooded Minglewood precursing the following half-dozen minutes of bodies flinging furiously to the music. This attention to the master from the audience seemed less to do with him being an immortal god of “cool” but much more to do with a genuine respect for his art.

It’s fun being at Shpongle. People go simply to have a good time, and the crowd’s energy is probably the most contagious of any show I’ve attended. There are tons of fantastic music, plenty of tasty visuals, and those involved space out on the floor giving you plenty of room to do your own thing. If Posford and his out-of-this-world show come to your town, do yourself a favor and go get Shpongled.

Photos by Nicole Robbins

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