|Report from Boston Globe, 17 April 1993:|
Three bands overpower the Middle East
CAMBRIDGE -- All sorts of strange and wonderful things can happen when techno is transported from the hermetic environment of a studio to a dance floor: power surges, tripped circuit breakers, and despite the technical glitches, a healthy, happy vibe.
Thursday night, it was the health of the house sound system at the Middle East that was in question, at least by the bands -- 808 State, Meat Beat Manifesto and Supreme Love Gods -- whose battery of electronic sound machines temporarily overwhelmed the club's wiring.
The stressed system shut itself down twice during Meat Beat Manifesto's set, which, thankfully for those squeezed near the stage, was what it was supposed to do when forced to accept too much power.
Although the performers complained that the entire scope of the presentation was taken away from them, that they could not use all of the special effects they spent time perfecting, the audience was unaware of any system inadequacies. In fact, it was quite powerful, as judged by the after-show sensation of little ballpeen hammers thumping against the brainpan.
None of the bands needed that much electrical energy to generate energy on the dance floor.
A pioneer in techno, 808 State is the latter-day incarnation of Kraftwerk, but grounded in all that Kraftwerk wrought, namely house, hip-hop and funk.
All three bands have played Boston in the past few months; 808 State performed at Avalon during last month's WFNX fete, where they were hampered by a leaden crowd reluctant to dance.
Here, they were amid friends, heads bobbing under the laser pinwheels blanketing the ceiling. The band ran through some new songs, getting a rousing response for "One In Ten," the collaboration with UB40 that has received heavy airplay.
The dance grooves were relentless, cascading from the "inadequate" system with only a few seconds of ambient interludes between songs. "Stormin' Norman." "Lift"
"Leo Leo." "In Your Face." Then "Cubik, the "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" of techno.
Meat Beat Manifesto dispensed lots of electronic digi-babble of sampled speeches over a pumping drum track and was an intelligent choice as a middle-of-bill act.
Supreme Love Gods uncorked a sound that was all over the plate, from rap to industrial trance noise, to generic synth pop, some of it very danceable.
They knew how to use the computer-generated sound palette, but may need a few more years of doing it in front of people.