Trippin’ With Tobin: An Out-Of-This-World Experience!
Amon Tobin’s ISAM 2.0
While the highs of taking drugs can be extraordinary, they say the coming down is the worst bit. But how about if you could feel that same high, that same buzz, that same sense of electricity tingling through the air and your body without the injecting/snorting/swallowing of foreign bodies into your own body, and without the horrible come down once the high has passed? Well, although I haven’t taken drugs before, I am quite confidently going to use the metaphor of drug-taking as a way to describe Amon Tobin’s ISAM 2.0 as that is exactly how I imagine it to be!
The 8th March 2013 saw me attend ISAM 2.0 at the Hammersmith Apollo without much prior knowledge of what I was in store for. All I knew of Amon Tobin was that he was a producer of electronic music, and his gigs were something of the sort that couldn’t really be described in words; they had to be experienced in person to be truly understood. It’s quite ironic that I mention that while trying to review this gig in writing, but from the outset I can immediately tell you, this review will do no justice to what actually occurred that Friday night. Phenomenal is the only way I can put it!
Surrounded by people who you could tell were true music lovers, beanie hats, converse sneakers and vibrantly highlighted hair galore, the atmosphere before even entering the venue was electric. Taking our seats in the upper circle of the intimate venue just before 7:30pm, we were expecting the show to start pretty much straight away; especially as Amon Tobin was scheduled to be on stage at around 7:30pm. However, this didn’t quite happen – but I believe this to have happened like this on purpose. As people made their way to their seats, got comfortable, mingled, chatted and went and returned with drinks, an audio was playing in the background consisting of all different parts. I don’t know how aware people were of it, but it drew me in, especially. At times I felt like I was switching the channels of a TV set and coming across different programmes, different people, different conversations and different lives, listening in without them being aware of it. It was exciting; the sounds heard were building up to something massive. It was cleverly and subtly done, laying the foundations to an undertone which was clearly going to be the undertone to a fantastic overtone; and this it surely was.
Before I knew it, the stage was alive! Bright lights, a giant cube surrounded by lots of other cubes taking centre stage and just purely captivating sounds pouring from the speakers inside the venue. My fingers hesitate as I type right now, as I honestly cannot think of how to put this extraordinary, extraordinary audio/visual extravaganza into words. The cubes played the backdrop to the most amazing visuals I have ever seen in my entire life created all from absolutely incredible lighting techniques projected onto the cubes and clearly by a massively talented group of individuals; from the moment the very first drop of gaseous air began snaking its way across the cubes, I was dumbstruck and totally hooked– this just couldn’t be real.
The music alongside the mind-blasting visuals made me feel like I, alongside the hundreds of other people who had come out to see Tobin play live, were somewhere different altogether; a paranormal dimension where anything was possible. This fits quite aptly to the underlying theme of the whole gig which was all to do with space and exploration; our tickets had bought us all lucky seats on Amon Tobin’s exclusive spaceship which was on its way out of here making its way to newer, more exciting, adventurous pastures. Tobin, whose DJ box was the central and biggest cube, came complete with his own space outfit including helmet, adding perfectly to the whole vibe.
The show for me was split up into three distinct sections; the way I saw it the first part saw us aboard Tobin’s spaceship preparing for the journey we were about to make beyond the atmosphere we know. The second part saw us out in space, where Tobin explored and then completely annihilated everything through sight and sound while we got to sit back, watch, enjoy and become a part of the whole experience. And finally, I’d say the third part was the building up of a whole new galaxy out there in space; something different, new and exciting with the sole purpose of heightening our human senses in a place so alien to us all.
Amazingly executed, the whole show was unbelievably insane without there ever being a dull moment. At times I felt like I was in a trance-like state, the visuals being my swinging pendant and the music my hypnotising medicine. Other times I felt like I was totally and utterly trippin’ out, as the lights flashed at lightning speed along with the music to match, while everybody around me was amazed and as in awe as I was. The show had everything from serene and calming moments, to totally, utterly insane moments where the visuals and audio combined were too much to handle. I never thought that I would one day go to a gig showcasing electronic music and be totally blown away but ISAM 2.0 did this and even more; a totally out of this world experience that I would absolutely love to be a part of again and again.
Unlike anything else I have ever seen or heard in my entire life, Amon Tobin’s ISAM 2.0, to sum up in just a few words, I would have to say was absolutely INCREDIBLE. The two or three standing ovations he received in the one gig were more than well deserved, especially from me, a newcomer to this whole sound and experience; Tobin definitely has a new fan right here!
One of the best things about the show is the reeling high it left me with; even now, all I have to do is think back and I’m right there, captivated, enthralled and right back in the thick of the Tobin experience. ISAM 2.0 is over now, but I would most definitely recommend anyone who wants a completely new and different musical experience to go along to a gig of his when he next tours.
Thank you Amon Tobin for making my first electronic music gig one of those unforgettable musical experiences that will certainly last me a lifetime. Space-hats off to Tobin and the rest of the crew that made the show possible: JOB, WELL, DONE.