If you squint very hard, you might be able to see the outline of ooOoO in the photo above. I make no claim to being a professional photographer (or even a very good one), but this was the “best” of 28 photos I attempted to take of the producer and his vocalist onstage. It was dark. Both visually and sonically.
But that was about it.
San Francisco-based producer ooOoO (Chris Dexter Greenspan) works largely with woozy atmospherics, toying with synthetic and altered samples. In the closely guarded innerspace of headphones, Greenspan is able to reach soaring highs and rumbling lows that move the soul to the edge of its existence, but the atmosphere onstage at the Empty Bottle last Saturday fell quite a bit short of that benchmark. Allow me to preface my review with a strong distinction: live shows aren’t the same as DJ sets — not by a long shot. DJs are wizards in the studio, flexing the whole of the space like a singular muscle and coaxing the lifeblood out of the air and onto tape. Live performances take place largely in the hotseat, under the stage lights, where the quality of the music often takes a backseat to the charisma and presence of the performer. It’s this distinction that, in my opinion, made Greenspan’s performance something of a flop for the sober-minded music critic I tend to embody.
The setup onstage was a paltry sum of two tables, mounted with minimal equipment, and that telltale caveat for any stage show, the glowing white apple of a laptop. With these tools, Greenspan and his vocalist were able to recreate the magic they recorded in the studio, igniting modules of dancing freakshows all throughout the house. These dancing masses, likely more well-versed in shows like ooOoO’s, were having a blast in the middle of the fat sub-bass tremor, but I felt myself wishing more visual candy from the experience.
I know that much of what I’m critiquing is besides the point; Greenspan’s sense of timing and feel for the house make him a key catalyst for a good night at a club. I’d never deny the power that ooOoO has over the dancefloor, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to put an eerie face to that haunting sound.