Underworld: So You Think You Can Dance?

A music-loving friend of mine recently said that he just didn't understand the appeal of live dance music -- that the thought of standing around and watching a bunch of guys pressing buttons and twiddling knobs was about as appealing as, oh, I dunno, the bite of soggy, half-eaten crabcake sandwich somebody offered me earlier today. (I passed.)

The fundamental problem with his take is that he's thinks live dance music should be like live rock, where you do, in fact, stand around and stare at the players. But it's called "dance music" for a reason (no standing around allowed), and while there's generally a visual element to the performances, it's about lighting and videos. The artists often don't work under a spotlight because really it's more important to be heard -- for the music, the mood swings, the momentum to be felt - than to be seen.

I'm thinking about this while NOT watching Underworld perform. Too busy dancing in place to stare at the stage (and by the way, the dancing is seriously impacting my ability to type).

If you must know, there are three guys up there - and one of them, Karl Hyde, is even doing some live singing, while his partner, Rick Smith and a live assistant do the press-and-twiddle thing.

It sounds fantastic and feels even better. Hard not to get swept up in the euphoria, even if I wouldn't recognize Hyde if he ran me over with a golf cart afterwards. It's not about the cult of personality. It's about the beats, the bass drops, the keyboard lines, the changes, the crescendos.

Too bad Mike isn't here to (not) see for himself.

-- J. Freedom du Lac

By David Malitz |  August 9, 2008; 8:51 PM ET Virgin Festival
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