Captain Ahab brought sweat, synths, madness and mayhem to the Tea Bazaar on Friday night. Call ’em rockstars, matey.
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The former’s electronic palate is free of fat, opting instead for sleek squelches of synthetic noise. He began his set Friday night with a friendly introduction before embarking on a meandering narrative of blips, bloops, clicks and clacks. The Doof’s success stems from his insane juggling ability: Equipped with a laptop and a mysterious box of knobs and switches, he jumped back and forth between his controls, tweaking a rhythm here, sparking up some new frequencies there. He seemed to barely keep the sonic chaos at bay, but it’s that sense of skilled intrepidness that makes his music great, like a game of Pong with the complexity level of chess.
Doofgoblin playing at the Tea Bazaar.
Doofgoblin often teeters over the abyss of abstract electronic dabbling, but his style and execution keep things aloft. There is no question that he has a blast playing his music, and, as my friend remarked during the show, he’s one of the most charismatic performers in town. Whether playing sound goblin or chatting with the audience through his homemade microphone, he is clearly in his element on stage. Through the course of his set at the Tea Bazaar, his energy seeped into the crowd and people bobbed and contorted along with the sonic vibrations zipping in and out of their ears.
Captain Ahab was next and, with Doofgoblin having satiated the craving for lean and intricate sounds, the L.A. duo made their predilection for plump, hedonistic dance music obvious. If there is an area of electro pop that the group doesn’t mix into their sweaty anthems, I haven’t come across it: They ricochet between hyper vocoder crooning, electro-punk barrages, Timbaland stomps and countless other synth-ridden stylings.
From the first notes that pumped from frontman Jonathan Snipes’ laptop, the Tea Bazaar transformed into a gyrating mess of bodies. Snipes’ companion Jim Merson disappeared into the fray to perform his main role in the duo: getting the crowd as psyched as possible. His methods (all of which worked) included sweaty bear hugs, screaming lyrics in your face and encouraging people to shed their clothing (by his own example).
A Captain Ahab show is far from typical. If you get caught up in their vortex (it’s hard to avoid), you end up soaked in sweat, slightly dizzy and feeling vaguely violated by their nonstop electronic rollercoaster. With Doofgoblin balancing this indulgence with his thoughtful, blipping beats, the evening was a well-rounded, satisfying sonic experience.