mobplaying1

Press play? More like bang drums hit stuff finger warp touchpad go crazy.

The Glitch Mob are one of America’s leading festival electronic acts. (And members like EdiT have IDM, not just EDM, credits to their name – so they were “glitching” before it was cool, in other words.) But while that circuit is in a frenzy of one-upmanship when it comes to spectacle, there’s some real playing behind this act. And that distances them from artists that put on a big show visually but have shied away from anything risky in the set – like actually playing the parts, beyond basic scene triggering or knob twiddling.

With their latest rig, The Glitch Mob apparently want to do more than just look like an epic rock band. They want to play like one, too.

And that means that while of course some complicated show and performance elements are sequenced in advance, the trio are playing – a lot. As the sun rises over California this morning, they are unveiling a new show rig. The eye candy for crowds is certainly amped up. But dig deeper, and the artists have given themselves more to do, not less, with a massive load of computational and audio hardware to back them up.

EdiT gave CDM an advance look at the rig over the weekend. Here’s a quick run-down – but if there is something of interest you’d like to know, let us know and we can talk to the band.

The Glitch Mob: Behind The Blade from the glitch mob on Vimeo.

stageplot

As EdiT explains, “there’s nothing off the shelf that we can buy to play our music.” So this is an all-custom rig, centering on some serious collaboration, including custom programming and Max/MSP patching by Matt Davis (who calls it a “real instrument”), live show production by Martin Phillips of Bionic League, and Gregg Lacey of Vision Scenery.

We’re talking real heavy hitters. And for all the (justified) talk lately about Berlin, this is a great example of what makes LA special. It’s the one city that can attract festival dance music culture and cross-breed it with Hollywood production values. Lacey literally builds movie sets, making science fiction imagination more realizable. I mean, it’s tough to find people who can draw as well as these guys can sketch out the set ideas, let alone build them in production-ready settings.

But because those production values go into the live performance itself and not just how it looks, this is about more than the stage effect. As they say in the video, you should be able to hear that effort in the music.

Gear watching:

In production, Ableton Push, Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol, Livid’s BASE, and NI’s Maschine all get a healthy workout.

Bits and pieces of their set are then loaded into Sampler instances in Ableton Live.

rackedmacs

maxmsp

“Little Kim,” the performance rig by Matt and Ed includes:
2 Mac Pro audio computers, each running Ableton Live (one ‘A’, one ‘B’ – redundancy, kids)
2 Mac minis for control data from onstage
One huge Max/MSP rig (see pics), handling sync, control, and presentation
Multiple Universal Audio Apollo audio interfaces
Radial SW8 Switchers
MOTU MIDI routing
Network gear

Then the stage setup:
Roland V-Drums (some built into giant taiko props)
Roland Octapad controllers (SPD-30)
Performance stations with iPads running Liine Lemur
Integrated grid controllers (either AKAI MPD or Livid BASE)

performancestation

mobplaying2

bladestage

And now you know what playing Rock Band on Xbox looks like – if you’re playing with top Sith lords.

Analog and digital MIDI signals all get routed, split, consolidated, translated (via Max/MSP) and then processed for Ableton Live.

They keep referring to “she,” the performance beast; I half expect her to turn evil and try to kill them all, GladOS style.

Speaking of evil computers, it’s worth watching from around halfway through when they get into the behind-the-scenes story. If you’re wondering if something this complicated can cause some headaches, and if, like you, even celebrity electronic acts do sometimes have coffee-overdose moments of panics as things keep breaking, that’ll be an affirmative.

The result is a stage set that is fully functional rather than decorative. So, rather than flying down in a spaceship (not that there’s anything wrong with that), anything large onstage is part of the instrument. Giant drums are giant drums, and you can expect them to get hit.

It feels from looking at it a bit like the wild synth performance rigs you saw in movies in the 80s and 90s, only it actually works and you can buy tickets. Subtle, it ain’t, but technology is certainly catching up with science fiction.

bladestagesetup

It’s funny, but I think The Glitch Mob really here get at the heart of what a big-festival project is – and the rising popularity of so-called EDM not only in America but Europe and internationally, too. It’s, as they say in the opening, hitting stuff hard and sweating.

The crowd’s expectations so obviously come from the world of those bigger rock shows (and big-stage hip-hop shows after them). That’s why it’s odd to me that people return to forced comparisons with the underground club scene that has a different lineage. But in understand the spectrum of live computer performance, it’s essential that we recognize those differences. It’s obvious to me that the stage presence of someone playing a giant festival stage is different than someone playing a small room discotheque, yet discussions about what electronic performance is or should be often makes no distinction.

What’s encouraging here is that even with the demands of spectacle, it’s possible – indeed, preferable – to actually play something. And so there’s good reason for The Glitch Mob to be vocal about what they’re doing – because once someone is pushing the technology here, no one can reasonably make the excuse that technology is what’s holding them back from genuinely playing live.

You can catch The Glitch Mob in an AMA on Reddit May 20th at 11am Pacific time. Or see them in North America and Europe:

5/22 – Vancouver, B.C. at Vogue Theater
5/23 – Portland, OR at Roseland Theater
5/25 – Quincy, WA @ Sasquatch Festival
5/28 – Reno, NV at Knitting Factory
5/29 – Berkeley, CA at The Greek Theatre
5/30 – Santa Barbara, CA at Santa Barbara Bowl
5/31 – Las Vegas, NV at Brooklyn Bowl
6/1 – Salt Lake City, UT at The Complex
6/4-7 – Austin, TX @ X-Games
6/5 – Dallas, TX at South Side Ballroom
6/19-21 – Scheessel, DE @ Hurricane Festival
6/19-21 – Neuhausen Ob Eck, DE @ Southside Festival
6/20 – Wiesen, Austria @ Urban Art Forms
6/25-28 Cluj, Romania @ Electric Castle
6/25-28 – St. Gallen, Switzerland @ Open Air Festival
7/31 – Morrison, CO @ HARD Red Rocks
8/1 – Pomona, CA @ HARD Summer
8/30 – New Orleans, LA at Joy Theater
9/2 – Nashville, TN at Marathon Music Works
9/3 – St. Louis, MO at The Pageant
9/4-6 – New York, NY @ Electric Zoo Festival
9/4-6 – Chicago, IL @ North Coast Festival

http://TheGlitchMob.com

Photos courtesy EdiT for CDM.

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  • Ccccccc

    “We knew we wanted the music to be as epic as the story we are telling…people ask where the name of the album came from and… the words… specifically… don’t mean anything”

    This is a Tim & Eric video, right?

    “We wanted to show how… like… epic… life and… stuff is”
    Yes, it is.

    Also, awful music is awful.

    • I am interested in how people assemble performances. As I said elsewhere in comments, the music I listen to and make sounds nothing like this. But then it’s interesting to me to see how people approach it in a different idiom, venue, with different audience expectations.

      This also comes from an instrumental background. You can learn something about chops and preparation and approach from someone who plays in an entirely different way than you do. You don’t even have to *like* what they’re doing.

      • Ccccccc

        You have a point there, there is definitely a lot to learn from people that make the opposite of what I do and enjoy. Sorry for the trollesque tone of my first comment, I guess I was having a bad day.

    • esolesek

      Poor critique is also poor.

  • Ccccccc

    “We knew we wanted the music to be as epic as the story we are telling…people ask where the name of the album came from and… the words… specifically… don’t mean anything”

    This is a Tim & Eric video, right?

    “We wanted to show how… like… epic… life and… stuff is”
    Yes, it is.

    Also, awful music is awful.

    • I am interested in how people assemble performances. As I said elsewhere in comments, the music I listen to and make sounds nothing like this. But then it’s interesting to me to see how people approach it in a different idiom, venue, with different audience expectations.

      This also comes from an instrumental background. You can learn something about chops and preparation and approach from someone who plays in an entirely different way than you do. You don’t even have to *like* what they’re doing.

      • Ccccccc

        You have a point there, there is definitely a lot to learn from people that make the opposite of what I do and enjoy. Sorry for the trollesque tone of my first comment, I guess I was having a bad day.

    • esolesek

      Poor critique is also poor.

  • NRGuest

    After watching the video, this really isn’t that different from their setup back during their first tour. It’s just more expensive and all housed in one case…

    • I think there is substantially more control mapped to the rig itself. Having seen an earlier iteration with iPads, it was a fraction of this… but yes, of course, related.

      • Brent Williams

        I saw them perform with this setup last summer at WTF. The show basically felt like a choreographed finger-dance routine with big gestures and props. I don’t mean to sound harsh. Live performance of electronic music has many difficulties. They have chosen to go Broadway with it. Fair enough.

        I too am very curious about their control mapping and sequence reliance. My hardware rig has less control points and is still too complicated to be reliable much of the time. Many possible points of failure. I would like to know how they approach the failsafety/spontaneity balance.

        Regardless of the quality of music, it was nice to see ANY degree of expressiveness in performance other than fist pumping and EQ “hot knobs”.

  • NRGuest

    After watching the video, this really isn’t that different from their setup back during their first tour. It’s just more expensive and all housed in one case…

    • I think there is substantially more control mapped to the rig itself. Having seen an earlier iteration with iPads, it was a fraction of this… but yes, of course, related.

      • Brent Williams

        I saw them perform with this setup last summer at WTF. The show basically felt like a choreographed finger-dance routine with big gestures and props. I don’t mean to sound harsh. Live performance of electronic music has many difficulties. They have chosen to go Broadway with it. Fair enough.

        I too am very curious about their control mapping and sequence reliance. My hardware rig has less control points and is still too complicated to be reliable much of the time. Many possible points of failure. I would like to know how they approach the failsafety/spontaneity balance.

        Regardless of the quality of music, it was nice to see ANY degree of expressiveness in performance other than fist pumping and EQ “hot knobs”.

  • lumpy

    sort of like a cyberpunk gathering of the juggalos

  • lumpy

    sort of like a cyberpunk gathering of the juggalos

  • chaircrusher

    The economics of Glitch Mob are such that they can do stuff like this. More interesting to me would be all the people coming up with unique performance setups with a couple fewer zeros at the end of the budget total….

    PS Amon Tobin ISAM live setup is brilliant, probably costs less, and comes with way better music.

    • Hold on — ISAM is lovely, but a lot more of it is pre-arranged rather than played live.

      I’m more concerned about the complexity of the control signals routed into their “brain.” Complexity of that sort would tend to create a more brittle performance setup. And that’s an issue entirely apart from budget which I’ve seen in a number of otherwise interesting performance rigs…

      To me, the question is really performance mappings rather than budget.

      That said, I think there’s something to be said for the level of production value and durability of people with Hollywood experience, for performances of this scale. There’s no reason you can’t learn something from their process and skill level on a different budget/scale.

      • chaircrusher

        True, and no reason I ever listen to their music 😉 But hey de gustibus non disputandum, am I right?

    • Ezmyrelda

      Thank you.. My setup will include far fewer zeros than this.. and should be quite unique and hopefully extremely expressive and fit (roughly) inside two 10″ mixer flight cases.

  • chaircrusher

    The economics of Glitch Mob are such that they can do stuff like this. More interesting to me would be all the people coming up with unique performance setups with a couple fewer zeros at the end of the budget total….

    PS Amon Tobin ISAM live setup is brilliant, probably costs less, and comes with way better music.

    • Hold on — ISAM is lovely, but a lot more of it is pre-arranged rather than played live.

      I’m more concerned about the complexity of the control signals routed into their “brain.” Complexity of that sort would tend to create a more brittle performance setup. And that’s an issue entirely apart from budget which I’ve seen in a number of otherwise interesting performance rigs…

      To me, the question is really performance mappings rather than budget.

      That said, I think there’s something to be said for the level of production value and durability of people with Hollywood experience, for performances of this scale. There’s no reason you can’t learn something from their process and skill level on a different budget/scale.

      • chaircrusher

        True, and no reason I ever listen to their music 😉 But hey de gustibus non disputandum, am I right?

    • Ezmyrelda

      Thank you.. My setup will include far fewer zeros than this.. and should be quite unique and hopefully extremely expressive and fit (roughly) inside two 10″ mixer flight cases.

  • FS

    thanks for sharing Peter, these dudes are incredible. so cool to see creativity thriving from small acts to giant, from Berlin to LA, its an exciting time to be in. its also inspiring to see these guys who have paid their dues in the LA underground beat culture independently work their way to a broader audience.

  • FS

    thanks for sharing Peter, these dudes are incredible. so cool to see creativity thriving from small acts to giant, from Berlin to LA, its an exciting time to be in. its also inspiring to see these guys who have paid their dues in the LA underground beat culture independently work their way to a broader audience.

  • sdp

    i guess in terms of filling a big scene and looking rockstarish this is definitely doing the job. other than that it’s just a giant triggering machine and it doesn’t really deal with the problem that being a great producer doesn’t mean being a great instrumentalist as well. part of the fun watching a good band is that they can actually play an instrument and putting some v-drums on stage doesn’t make you a drummer. to use an instrument that you can’t really play well is sort of misleading.
    the next problem of this rig is that it’s built around a specific set and doesn’t allow for a whole lot of onstage expressivity, specially since they’re more than one person. to me it feels like controllers like the monome are more spot-on in giving performers more flexibility and this actually where it’s most interesting; arrangement, structure, tweaking sounds. all the things great producers are good at.
    in short this setup is missing the point. they just press play more often and with some awkward-looking drumsticks in hand. visually impressive, musically not interesting.

    also, this isn’t really a custom instrument, it’s a bunch of off the shelf controllers in a fancy housing. it’s like a guitar player with a sticker on his “custom” guitar, but i guess i’m getting bitchy now

    • Yes, I have some questions about where there’s interactivity with the set itself… of course you can play drums over more or less anything (and, with the proper chops, that can be a good option)

      That said, are you suggesting they aren’t able to drum their way through the sets? I mean, there’s also the musical style here… which, as with a big rock show, is also sort of performance itself as spectacle…

      • sdp

        no of course they can, but with the right samples, routing and backing tracks in place everybody could. you can hear and see that drumming is not part of their production techniques, so why do it onstage? it’s really just make believe. then again these guys definitely have strong abilities that never get a chance live. i mean it makes total sense if someone like squarepusher plays bass during his sets, but that doesn’t make a bass the obvious choice for any live set. neither are drums.
        but anyways i guess the goal here wasn’t expressivity or interactivity in the first place but rather a visually impressive show. as for what they’re doing everything makes sense, but it’s not adding anything substantial to the discussion about how to make/organise/structure an expressive/interactive/instant-changes-facilitating live set.

        • Lee Chaos

          “you can hear and see that drumming is not part of their production techniques, so why do it onstage?”

          Because music production and music performance are two different things. Otherwise we’d all be buying tickets to see everyone hunched over laptops. Oh wait…

          I don’t see this conversation anywhere else int he Arts.

          “Yeah it was a great play, but I wish there was less of a set, and I got to see the actor learning his lines.”

          “Nice sculpture, but I want to see the block of marble before and after. It’s important to me to see artists chiselling.”

          • sdp

            agreed that production and performance are different things, yet still it makes sense to be able to perform well in the chosen way. i guess what i meant is; you see and hear that they are not drummers, so why do it onstage. there are many ways to do a live set and many more will be found, so to copy the well known band setting without actual abilities as instrumentalists is just downright depressing. by the way, nothing said about the mpds, i think these guys know well how to play them. (maybe because they’re part of their production techniques?)

            your examples make no sense since for the first one production and performance is personnel-wise divided (which is a perfectly working thing in music too; thinking of some djs, classical orchestras, producers with live bands such as caribou, bonobo, … but it’s not the case with glitch mob and most other live sets) and for the second one there is no human performance whatsoever involved.
            and it’s definitely not the case that no issues with the transition from production to performance/presentation exist in the art world. e.g. the whole industry of curating deals among others with that.

  • sdp

    i guess in terms of filling a big scene and looking rockstarish this is definitely doing the job. other than that it’s just a giant triggering machine and it doesn’t really deal with the problem that being a great producer doesn’t mean being a great instrumentalist as well. part of the fun watching a good band is that they can actually play an instrument and putting some v-drums on stage doesn’t make you a drummer. to use an instrument that you can’t really play well is sort of misleading.
    the next problem of this rig is that it’s built around a specific set and doesn’t allow for a whole lot of onstage expressivity, specially since they’re more than one person. to me it feels like controllers like the monome are more spot-on in giving performers more flexibility and this actually where it’s most interesting; arrangement, structure, tweaking sounds. all the things great producers are good at.
    in short this setup is missing the point. they just press play more often and with some awkward-looking drumsticks in hand. visually impressive, musically not interesting.

    also, this isn’t really a custom instrument, it’s a bunch of off the shelf controllers in a fancy housing. it’s like a guitar player with a sticker on his “custom” guitar, but i guess i’m getting bitchy now

    • Yes, I have some questions about where there’s interactivity with the set itself… of course you can play drums over more or less anything (and, with the proper chops, that can be a good option)

      That said, are you suggesting they aren’t able to drum their way through the sets? I mean, there’s also the musical style here… which, as with a big rock show, is also sort of performance itself as spectacle…

      • sdp

        no of course they can, but with the right samples, routing and backing tracks in place everybody could. you can hear and see that drumming is not part of their production techniques, so why do it onstage? it’s really just make believe. then again these guys definitely have strong abilities that never get a chance live. i mean it makes total sense if someone like squarepusher plays bass during his sets, but that doesn’t make a bass the obvious choice for any live set. neither are drums.
        but anyways i guess the goal here wasn’t expressivity or interactivity in the first place but rather a visually impressive show. as for what they’re doing everything makes sense, but it’s not adding anything substantial to the discussion about how to make/organise/structure an expressive/interactive/instant-changes-facilitating live set.

        • Lee Chaos

          “you can hear and see that drumming is not part of their production techniques, so why do it onstage?”

          Because music production and music performance are two different things. Otherwise we’d all be buying tickets to see everyone hunched over laptops. Oh wait…

          I don’t see this conversation anywhere else int he Arts.

          “Yeah it was a great play, but I wish there was less of a set, and I got to see the actor learning his lines.”

          “Nice sculpture, but I want to see the block of marble before and after. It’s important to me to see artists chiselling.”

          • sdp

            agreed that production and performance are different things, yet still it makes sense to be able to perform well in the chosen way. i guess what i meant is; you see and hear that they are not drummers, so why do it onstage. there are many ways to do a live set and many more will be found, so to copy the well known band setting without actual abilities as instrumentalists is just downright depressing. by the way, nothing said about the mpds, i think these guys know well how to play them. (maybe because they’re part of their production techniques?)

            your examples make no sense since for the first one production and performance is personnel-wise divided (which is a perfectly working thing in music too; thinking of some djs, classical orchestras, producers with live bands such as caribou, bonobo, … but it’s not the case with glitch mob and most other live sets) and for the second one there is no human performance whatsoever involved.
            and it’s definitely not the case that no issues with the transition from production to performance/presentation exist in the art world. e.g. the whole industry of curating deals among others with that.

  • Eoin Coughlan

    shitmob

  • Eoin Coughlan

    shitmob

  • brian tester

    Conspicuous display of wealth coupled with facile music. . . Gross.

    • Hermann

      Bump! Exactly! Thanks for putting this so precise and short.

    • I think there’s something to be learned here apart from the musical style itself. And believe me, personally, my own expression is more or less the opposite of this. But then I am curious about how they conceive the live performance – how a large-scale performance that is about spectacle works through live mappings versus pre-sequenced material, and how it integrates a live setup in a stage rig.

      • b_p_t

        Fair enough, and I didn’t take this a personal endorsement! But, I remember reading an article in Sound On Sound a while ago about Pet Shop Boys stage setup, which was simpler, much less douche-y, and, IMHO, more interesting. It also had to span several albums and
        reflected some sounds and beats they were into at the time. Wish I could remember the issue. . . .

  • brian tester

    Conspicuous display of wealth coupled with facile music. . . Gross.

    • Hermann

      Bump! Exactly! Thanks for putting this so precise and short.

    • I think there’s something to be learned here apart from the musical style itself. And believe me, personally, my own expression is more or less the opposite of this. But then I am curious about how they conceive the live performance – how a large-scale performance that is about spectacle works through live mappings versus pre-sequenced material, and how it integrates a live setup in a stage rig.

      • b_p_t

        Fair enough, and I didn’t take this a personal endorsement! But, I remember reading an article in Sound On Sound a while ago about Pet Shop Boys stage setup, which was simpler, much less douche-y, and, IMHO, more interesting. It also had to span several albums and
        reflected some sounds and beats they were into at the time. Wish I could remember the issue. . . .

  • Ezmyrelda

    “there’s nothing off the shelf that we can buy to play our music.”

    “who calls is a “real instrument””

    Lot of pretension there.. for what boils down to a minimally expressive set using oversized stage props.. clip triggering.. whatever the input mode doesn’t seem very impressive.. But to each their own.. I’m sure there are thousands of people who will enjoy the show and music for what they are..

    Destroid.. Now there’s some collective bad assery.

    • Lots of typo there. Fixed.

      I think it’s actually not so much clip triggering – it’s sort of a V-Drums rig and a bunch of Sampler instances built into scenography.

      I don’t think it makes any sense to compare to what you or I or anyone we know might be doing – I think there’s something to be said about the practice they’re using versus other large-scale festival acts. Those have very different expectations of scale onstage; that’s the point. Now, whether the actual performance goes beyond some Lemur triggering, pads, and V-Drums, once you take a way the scenography, I do want to understand that better. But the way they speak to the festival crowd audience is also different… let’s say cultural, somehow.

      I don’t think what they’re doing is so different in terms of expression from other large-scale rock shows; that’s why I made the comparison. It’s not my own idiom or a lot of other music, but it’s worth understanding.

      There’s more going on here than I could cover. I actually wanted to gauge reactions / questions.

      To me, the question is, what makes this as complex as Cirque? It isn’t the Live set – I’ve seen Richie Hawtin’s Plastikman set, which was the largest Session View I’ve ever seen. (I’m not saying larger is better, but since Ableton brought that up…)

      So I suspect they’re triggering more inputs elsewhere and linking this to visual/show control. That’s interesting, because what I can say is that other large-scale EDM shows have gone with press play because they claimed (I think incorrectly) they *couldn’t* combine complex show control with anyone playing anything live.

      That’s why I brought this up. I think it’s relevant, and I hope it’s clear. There’s no reason you have to judge other laptop performances versus The Glitch Mob any more than you have to judge an open mic night of singer-songwriters versus an Open Mic Night.

      It’s not about comparative value or scale — quite the opposite, each music ought to be judged within its context.

      • Ezmyrelda

        It’s absolutely relevant.. And I think my point.. If I had one.. is that.. there is definitely an interest in these types of shows. But for me they don’t really show me anything on a visceral personal level that I’m looking for from live electronic performance.. Nor do they include the.. variations of fingerdrumming I’m interested in hearing from live shows of artists of this type..

        ” they claimed they *couldn’t* combine complex show control with anyone playing anything live.”

        and see, for me that’s the thing.. I believe.. they probably could..

        I understand it’s important for artists to create the kinds of shows that can support the audiences they have.. It’s just that.. Honestly.. I’m tired of large scale electronica shows.. I’m tired of things like EDC.. I’m tired of the big over the top extravagance that some in the industry are throwing at the aesthetics of the show..

        I want to see proficient artists.. up close, doing intimate shows, on unique and very personal setups.

        • Lee Chaos

          “I want to see proficient artists.. up close, doing intimate shows, on unique and very personal setups.”

          Sadly there’s not much money in that.

          • Tobias Prins

            Music has nothing to do with money! Ezmyrelda, listen to Chet Faker

          • Lee Chaos

            It’s called the music business for a reason.

          • Ezmyrelda

            Ok.. That’s a very helpful perspective.. I’ll just file it away with other things I’ve found to be generally true.. but don’t actually help in a way other than “this is my opinion”.

            I’m not interested in fawning over or paying attention to people who are obviously only in it for the money..

            On the other hand.. I am nearing opportunities for myself and my projects which will allow me to meet people with a like mind..

            “Sadly there’s not much money in that.” doesn’t concern me at all.. I’m not interested in pandering to the mainstream idea of what success is or what good shows are or should be.. I’ll take my can do attitude and my DIY punk ethic and opinions on “money” and bid you good day.

  • Ezmyrelda

    “there’s nothing off the shelf that we can buy to play our music.”

    “who calls is a “real instrument””

    Lot of pretension there.. for what boils down to a minimally expressive set using oversized stage props.. clip triggering.. whatever the input mode doesn’t seem very impressive.. But to each their own.. I’m sure there are thousands of people who will enjoy the show and music for what they are..

    Destroid.. Now there’s some collective bad assery.

    • Lots of typo there. Fixed.

      I think it’s actually not so much clip triggering – it’s sort of a V-Drums rig and a bunch of Sampler instances built into scenography.

      I don’t think it makes any sense to compare to what you or I or anyone we know might be doing – I think there’s something to be said about the practice they’re using versus other large-scale festival acts. Those have very different expectations of scale onstage; that’s the point. Now, whether the actual performance goes beyond some Lemur triggering, pads, and V-Drums, once you take a way the scenography, I do want to understand that better. But the way they speak to the festival crowd audience is also different… let’s say cultural, somehow.

      I don’t think what they’re doing is so different in terms of expression from other large-scale rock shows; that’s why I made the comparison. It’s not my own idiom or a lot of other music, but it’s worth understanding.

      There’s more going on here than I could cover. I actually wanted to gauge reactions / questions.

      To me, the question is, what makes this as complex as Cirque? It isn’t the Live set – I’ve seen Richie Hawtin’s Plastikman set, which was the largest Session View I’ve ever seen. (I’m not saying larger is better, but since Ableton brought that up…)

      So I suspect they’re triggering more inputs elsewhere and linking this to visual/show control. That’s interesting, because what I can say is that other large-scale EDM shows have gone with press play because they claimed (I think incorrectly) they *couldn’t* combine complex show control with anyone playing anything live.

      That’s why I brought this up. I think it’s relevant, and I hope it’s clear. There’s no reason you have to judge other laptop performances versus The Glitch Mob any more than you have to judge an open mic night of singer-songwriters versus an Open Mic Night.

      It’s not about comparative value or scale — quite the opposite, each music ought to be judged within its context.

      • Ezmyrelda

        It’s absolutely relevant.. And I think my point.. If I had one.. is that.. there is definitely an interest in these types of shows. But for me they don’t really show me anything on a visceral personal level that I’m looking for from live electronic performance.. Nor do they include the.. variations of fingerdrumming I’m interested in hearing from live shows of artists of this type..

        ” they claimed they *couldn’t* combine complex show control with anyone playing anything live.”

        and see, for me that’s the thing.. I believe.. they probably could..

        I understand it’s important for artists to create the kinds of shows that can support the audiences they have.. It’s just that.. Honestly.. I’m tired of large scale electronica shows.. I’m tired of things like EDC.. I’m tired of the big over the top extravagance that some in the industry are throwing at the aesthetics of the show..

        I want to see proficient artists.. up close, doing intimate shows, on unique and very personal setups.

        • Lee Chaos

          “I want to see proficient artists.. up close, doing intimate shows, on unique and very personal setups.”

          Sadly there’s not much money in that.

          • Tobias Prins

            Music has nothing to do with money! Ezmyrelda, listen to Chet Faker

          • Lee Chaos

            It’s called the music business for a reason.

          • Ezmyrelda

            Ok.. That’s a very helpful perspective.. I’ll just file it away with other things I’ve found to be generally true.. but don’t actually help in a way other than “this is my opinion”.

            I’m not interested in fawning over or paying attention to people who are obviously only in it for the money..

            On the other hand.. I am nearing opportunities for myself and my projects which will allow me to meet people with a like mind..

            “Sadly there’s not much money in that.” doesn’t concern me at all.. I’m not interested in pandering to the mainstream idea of what success is or what good shows are or should be.. I’ll take my can do attitude and my DIY punk ethic and opinions on “money” and bid you good day.

  • Great insight on how to avoid being labelled as play-pushers. Really impressive. Around the 4 minute mark when one of the bandmembers was talking about how big their music and project is — it felt like a comedy sketch — a parody of themselves. Talking about overdoing things — it seems that they’ve nailed it! I wonder if the redundant machine was also handling live streamed data or was it programmed backup set in case communications with the helm went down. And I wonder how much of that drumming ended up being heard.

  • Great insight on how to avoid being labelled as play-pushers. Really impressive. Around the 4 minute mark when one of the bandmembers was talking about how big their music and project is — it felt like a comedy sketch — a parody of themselves. Talking about overdoing things — it seems that they’ve nailed it! I wonder if the redundant machine was also handling live streamed data or was it programmed backup set in case communications with the helm went down. And I wonder how much of that drumming ended up being heard.

  • I understand many feel tempted to say something negative about this. I can also understand that for the european ear, this music and attitude might be of poor taste, but sincerely, as much as I love them, Kraftwerk does exactly the same in terms of ‘performing’ live, only different in their origins and subject. I was told by a german musician that they were merely an allegory of the german culture in a very pop, easy presentation. Glitch Mob for me, is the Michael Bay of electronic music and I’m very happy they exist and somebody takes the ‘Ableton + Midi + Soundcard’ combo to ridiculous levels. It is indeed very inspiring to see good ways of spending money and I’d rather have them spend it on audio gear than on guns and hummers. (sorry for that last biased joke)

    • Ha, I’m not sure these are “European ears” complaining so much as some comments from people who just don’t like the music.

      And yeah, of course – if you’re looking at film editing, for instance, you’d look at both the Michael Bay and some independent art-house film. You need the whole range. I’ll keep covering both and expect some resistance from people who aren’t into one or the other.

      I remain curious about music beyond just the stuff I make and listen to routinely, and I know others are, too – comments aside.

      But hello from more North American ears! 🙂

  • cxxxx

    I understand many feel tempted to say something negative about this. I can also understand that for the european ear, this music and attitude might be of poor taste, but sincerely, as much as I love them, Kraftwerk does exactly the same in terms of ‘performing’ live, only different in their origins and subject. I was told by a german musician that they were merely an allegory of the german culture in a very pop, easy presentation. Glitch Mob for me, is the Michael Bay of electronic music and I’m very happy they exist and somebody takes the ‘Ableton + Midi + Soundcard’ combo to ridiculous levels. It is indeed very inspiring to see good ways of spending money and I’d rather have them spend it on audio gear than on guns and hummers. (sorry for that last biased joke)

    • Ha, I’m not sure these are “European ears” complaining so much as some comments from people who just don’t like the music.

      And yeah, of course – if you’re looking at film editing, for instance, you’d look at both the Michael Bay and some independent art-house film. You need the whole range. I’ll keep covering both and expect some resistance from people who aren’t into one or the other.

      I remain curious about music beyond just the stuff I make and listen to routinely, and I know others are, too – comments aside.

      But hello from more North American ears! 🙂

  • P A R F U M

    their controllers are fully “off the shelf” just buried in Universal Studio plastic. No big deal really, just cosmetic kitsch.

  • P A R F U M

    their controllers are fully “off the shelf” just buried in Universal Studio plastic. No big deal really, just cosmetic kitsch.

  • afx

    so fuckin poooooor

  • afx

    so fuckin poooooor

  • Lee Chaos

    What I most admire about their rig is the… project management. For those dissing for having all the money, I’m going to assume they didn’t watch the video fully – this is *self-financed* and doesn’t have any big record company backing. For me, that’s the bit that is most impressive, bringing all those resources together to create a single point-of-focus spectacle, whether you like their music or not.

    These accusations will always be levelled at electronic music, no matter how closely you look behind the curtain. I don’t really care any more – I think that the show is the most important thing. It’s the difference between going to the cinema to follow the story and going to the cinema to critique the film making skills. Both are valid, sometimes one is more valid than the other, but to do one at the expense of the other rather misses the point.

    • Yeah, exactly – there’s definitely something to be learned here for anyone curious. I think the smartest musicians can look past kneejerk reactions on taste alone.

      Oh, and side note: Ableton really is used by Cirque du Soleil, as mentioned in this video. So that range of applications is huge. You’re nuts to only keep your eyes trained on the particular music you’re into.

      • Lee Chaos

        I’ve yet to find a problem that can’t be solved with Ableton & MIDI – I use it for music workshops with people with disabilities where I can record a loop then go and help them join in with adaptive tech, I’ve used it for installations where sounds are triggered by light, proximity and humidity, I’ve used it for making music from 8 contact mics attached to a performance artist and nothing more, and I’ve used it to run our own show with lights, projectors, lasers and audience participation.

        Everyone gets really hung up on the title of ‘musician’ – I think if we valued the role of technician a bit more then people would be more willing to show their workings. For me the Glitch Mob rig is exciting because they’ve built it to work with their music as spectacle, it’s like watching a great actor interact with a good special effects prop.

  • Lee Chaos

    What I most admire about their rig is the… project management. For those dissing for having all the money, I’m going to assume they didn’t watch the video fully – this is *self-financed* and doesn’t have any big record company backing. For me, that’s the bit that is most impressive, bringing all those resources together to create a single point-of-focus spectacle, whether you like their music or not.

    These accusations will always be levelled at electronic music, no matter how closely you look behind the curtain. I don’t really care any more – I think that the show is the most important thing. It’s the difference between going to the cinema to follow the story and going to the cinema to critique the film making skills. Both are valid, sometimes one is more valid than the other, but to do one at the expense of the other rather misses the point.

    • Yeah, exactly – there’s definitely something to be learned here for anyone curious. I think the smartest musicians can look past kneejerk reactions on taste alone.

      Oh, and side note: Ableton really is used by Cirque du Soleil, as mentioned in this video. So that range of applications is huge. You’re nuts to only keep your eyes trained on the particular music you’re into.

      • Lee Chaos

        I’ve yet to find a problem that can’t be solved with Ableton & MIDI – I use it for music workshops with people with disabilities where I can record a loop then go and help them join in with adaptive tech, I’ve used it for installations where sounds are triggered by light, proximity and humidity, I’ve used it for making music from 8 contact mics attached to a performance artist and nothing more, and I’ve used it to run our own show with lights, projectors, lasers and audience participation.

        Everyone gets really hung up on the title of ‘musician’ – I think if we valued the role of technician a bit more then people would be more willing to show their workings. For me the Glitch Mob rig is exciting because they’ve built it to work with their music as spectacle, it’s like watching a great actor interact with a good special effects prop.

  • Freeks

    I have zero understanding for the haters in this topic. I have never understood GMob music and i do not understand how they attract big crowds with it, but it’s great that they do it.

    I have played electronic music live with various setups since 1996. I truly envy GMob setup. It would be a dream to be able to have money to build that kind of thing. Not that mine would look like that, but it would be as nerdy. I can currently do everything i need with just laptop and few controllers, but i would create insanely nerdy setup just for sake i would afford it. For the love to the sport.

    There is currently discussion on GS on is Chemical Brothers live set fake or not. There is actually ppl out there who are completely clueless how electronic music is performed “live”. It’s kind of sad.

    GMob is Michael Bay of EDM. Someone has to be it. If everybody would be just Michel Gondry’s of EDM world would be quite boring.

    Btw, Deadmouse was building some insane live rig last year. Does anyone know did he ever got it done?

    • Ha, though now I want to figure out who the Michel Gondry of EDM is!

      • lumpy

        the Michael Gondry of EDM is Jamie Lidell

  • Freeks

    I have zero understanding for the haters in this topic. I have never understood GMob music and i do not understand how they attract big crowds with it, but it’s great that they do it.

    I have played electronic music live with various setups since 1996. I truly envy GMob setup. It would be a dream to be able to have money to build that kind of thing. Not that mine would look like that, but it would be as nerdy. I can currently do everything i need with just laptop and few controllers, but i would create insanely nerdy setup just for sake i would afford it. For the love to the sport.

    There is currently discussion on GS on is Chemical Brothers live set fake or not. There is actually ppl out there who are completely clueless how electronic music is performed “live”. It’s kind of sad.

    GMob is Michael Bay of EDM. Someone has to be it. If everybody would be just Michel Gondry’s of EDM world would be quite boring.

    Btw, Deadmouse was building some insane live rig last year. Does anyone know did he ever got it done?

    • Ha, though now I want to figure out who the Michel Gondry of EDM is!

      • lumpy

        the Michael Gondry of EDM is Jamie Lidell

  • Foosnark

    I played in a semi-professional taiko drumming group (as in, the group got paid for performances to cover gear and rent, but the players didn’t except for gas on long trips). Taiko is very physical and a performance is more than half visual, though of course you still have to play with at least good (preferably great) timing, dynamics, technique, group communciation etc. and have the endurance to basically do hardcore cardio in front of an audience and look happy and/or intense instead of exhausted. (Personally, I have good rhythm and serious improv skills but I fail at choreography and stage presence; I decided taiko was not for me but am very glad I did it for a while.)

    So I have some appreciation for what goes into making a good performance aside from just getting in front of people and hitting “Start” and tweaking a couple of knobs and sliders.

    I’m not into “festival EDM” but I do like industrial, and have seen some really memorable Skinny Puppy shows (and less memorable shows by some others). If you want to, you can think of the costumes and special effects and lights and background video as superficial to the music. But to me it’s the difference between a show and a mere recital.

    There’s nothing wrong with a musician who’s great in the studio and not so great on stage. If you can find a way to be both, that’s fantastic.

  • Foosnark

    I played in a semi-professional taiko drumming group (as in, the group got paid for performances to cover gear and rent, but the players didn’t except for gas on long trips). Taiko is very physical and a performance is more than half visual, though of course you still have to play with at least good (preferably great) timing, dynamics, technique, group communciation etc. and have the endurance to basically do hardcore cardio in front of an audience and look happy and/or intense instead of exhausted. (Personally, I have good rhythm and serious improv skills but I fail at choreography and stage presence; I decided taiko was not for me but am very glad I did it for a while.)

    So I have some appreciation for what goes into making a good performance aside from just getting in front of people and hitting “Start” and tweaking a couple of knobs and sliders.

    I’m not into “festival EDM” but I do like industrial, and have seen some really memorable Skinny Puppy shows (and less memorable shows by some others). If you want to, you can think of the costumes and special effects and lights and background video as superficial to the music. But to me it’s the difference between a show and a mere recital.

    There’s nothing wrong with a musician who’s great in the studio and not so great on stage. If you can find a way to be both, that’s fantastic.

  • Lee Chaos

    For those with one-word disses: Show us your rig.

    Genuinely interested to see how people do it differently if it’s not just a variation on what’s in the video (with less lights & spaceships).

    I’ll show you mine if you show me yours…

  • Lee Chaos

    For those with one-word disses: Show us your rig.

    Genuinely interested to see how people do it differently if it’s not just a variation on what’s in the video (with less lights & spaceships).

    I’ll show you mine if you show me yours…

  • Random Chance

    I don’t get it? Is this kind of stage setup original? Reminds me of 80s Depeche Mode or Kraftwerk for instance. What would be really interesting (to me at least) is a report on how people deal with playing live as opposed to putting on a stage performance. When you have limited human ressources on stage it’s hard to play everything live but the more sequences and backing tracks you (have to) use the less flexible you usually become. I think it’s really interesting to see how different people deal with that issue or related aspects of playing live with electronic instruments.

    • Yeah, of course it’s interesting to look at other artists. Fortunately, this isn’t the first and last article I’ve ever written… 😉

  • Random Chance

    I don’t get it? Is this kind of stage setup original? Reminds me of 80s Depeche Mode or Kraftwerk for instance. What would be really interesting (to me at least) is a report on how people deal with playing live as opposed to putting on a stage performance. When you have limited human ressources on stage it’s hard to play everything live but the more sequences and backing tracks you (have to) use the less flexible you usually become. I think it’s really interesting to see how different people deal with that issue or related aspects of playing live with electronic instruments.

    • Yeah, of course it’s interesting to look at other artists. Fortunately, this isn’t the first and last article I’ve ever written… 😉

  • Keep trying Mob.

    Although I suspect that Angus Young wouldn’t even piss on you.

  • Keep trying Mob.

    Although I suspect that Angus Young wouldn’t even piss on you.

  • [brute squad]

    I love how seamlessly they switch between songs. The same performance principles apply to every song. Simple and effective so you can pour your heart into the performance. I’d like to know how they switch between all of the light and visual changes as well as patch changes via “lil’ Kim.” Are all of the show controls sent via launching scenes in session view?

    • Good point, and worth asking… and yeah, it’s actually getting from one song to the other that is the sticking point…

    • Freeks

      I have pre-programmed light setups that are triggered from clips in session view. When transitioning to next song all lights follow. Also when i loop section the lights loop too. I can also override those clips so can change setup if needed.

      My setup is very simple and cheap. I have Enttec DMXIS usb to DMX box that comes with software that i sync and trigger from live:
      http://www.enttec.com/index.php?main_menu=Products&pn=70570

      Then i just borrow bunch of DMX lights and have a synced light show 🙂

      Same could be done with visuals but i have VJ who does what she wants and sometimes it’s synced and sometimes not.

      • Lee Chaos

        That’s exactly how I do it too. In addition I send MIDI via CopperLAN to 2 other laptops, one that does sync’d visuals on a front projector via an old copy of Arkaos, and one that gets sent to my visuals guy running Grand VJ, so he can drop clips into triggering keys if he chooses on the 2 other projectors he’s running (sometimes front & back, sometimes widescreen).

  • [brute squad]

    I love how seamlessly they switch between songs. The same performance principles apply to every song. Simple and effective so you can pour your heart into the performance. I’d like to know how they switch between all of the light and visual changes as well as patch changes via “lil’ Kim.” Are all of the show controls sent via launching scenes in session view?

    • Good point, and worth asking… and yeah, it’s actually getting from one song to the other that is the sticking point…

    • Freeks

      I have pre-programmed light setups that are triggered from clips in session view. When transitioning to next song all lights follow. Also when i loop section the lights loop too. I can also override those clips so can change setup if needed.

      My setup is very simple and cheap. I have Enttec DMXIS usb to DMX box that comes with software that i sync and trigger from live:
      http://www.enttec.com/index.php?main_menu=Products&pn=70570

      Then i just borrow bunch of DMX lights and have a synced light show 🙂

      Same could be done with visuals but i have VJ who does what she wants and sometimes it’s synced and sometimes not.

      • Lee Chaos

        That’s exactly how I do it too. In addition I send MIDI via CopperLAN to 2 other laptops, one that does sync’d visuals on a front projector via an old copy of Arkaos, and one that gets sent to my visuals guy running Grand VJ, so he can drop clips into triggering keys if he chooses on the 2 other projectors he’s running (sometimes front & back, sometimes widescreen).

  • Strange Dr.

    Wow, some really sad and envious comments here. Look, whether you like the music or not is irrelevant as Peter has mentioned. This is about what they are doing to create a live show that will be memorable and moving to their audience.

    It’s really bizarre to me that there is criticism that this is somehow not a “real” instrument. Can someone explain what that even means? Is a keyboard that plays a string sound “real”?

    When I saw Kraftwerk last year, I, and most of the audience, were under no illusion that most, if not all, of the music was programmed with little room for variation. The show was still incredible. It was the entire performance that was judged – sound, visuals, setting, etc.

    Electronic music has always had an issue with “performance” – whatever the hell that even means. This music here is “big”. It is a soundtrack to large-scale spectacle. That’s the whole point. This is not a small room with someone playing deep-house. This is Iron Maiden.

  • Strange Dr.

    Wow, some really sad and envious comments here. Look, whether you like the music or not is irrelevant as Peter has mentioned. This is about what they are doing to create a live show that will be memorable and moving to their audience.

    It’s really bizarre to me that there is criticism that this is somehow not a “real” instrument. Can someone explain what that even means? Is a keyboard that plays a string sound “real”?

    When I saw Kraftwerk last year, I, and most of the audience, were under no illusion that most, if not all, of the music was programmed with little room for variation. The show was still incredible. It was the entire performance that was judged – sound, visuals, setting, etc.

    Electronic music has always had an issue with “performance” – whatever the hell that even means. This music here is “big”. It is a soundtrack to large-scale spectacle. That’s the whole point. This is not a small room with someone playing deep-house. This is Iron Maiden.

  • benniy c bascom

    would love to understand this, as it looks precisely like various kinds of commercial grade midi-controllers and -triggers packed into a futuresque SUV dashboard (subtracting some tons of babbling before and after). seriously? (@ 13’00) » https://vimeo.com/127965434#t=13m13s

  • benniy c bascom

    would love to understand this, as it looks precisely like various kinds of commercial grade midi-controllers and -triggers packed into a futuresque SUV dashboard (subtracting some tons of babbling before and after). seriously? (@ 13’00) » https://vimeo.com/127965434#t=13m13s

  • julilectric

    1. This is not wether you like TGM or not. It is about a way to play electronic music live. Which is most of the time a difficult task to perform.
    2. Sure they took it broadway, but considering the music they make everything fits. everything sounds just bigger than life, so why don’t have a (expensive) monster build to house (off the shelf) hardware. It fits.
    3. This custom-programmed MAX whatever software is great. since it is custom made. to fit (here it comes) THEIR needs. not yours nor mine.
    4. I rather watch people bang on drums live than have oh so innovative electronic musicians pushing buttons on a laptop keyboard or a tiny midi controller (though this can be good too)
    TGMs Blade is just more fun. What is wrong with it?

  • julilectric

    1. This is not wether you like TGM or not. It is about a way to play electronic music live. Which is most of the time a difficult task to perform.
    2. Sure they took it broadway, but considering the music they make everything fits. everything sounds just bigger than life, so why don’t have a (expensive) monster build to house (off the shelf) hardware. It fits.
    3. This custom-programmed MAX whatever software is great. since it is custom made. to fit (here it comes) THEIR needs. not yours nor mine.
    4. I rather watch people bang on drums live than have oh so innovative electronic musicians pushing buttons on a laptop keyboard or a tiny midi controller (though this can be good too)
    TGMs Blade is just more fun. What is wrong with it?

  • The ultimate Glitch Terminators !!! … unsurvivable … WIN WIN WIN !!!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=165&v=3lvTSss9KkE

    “wouldn’t piss on you if you on fire” SNOG

  • The ultimate Glitch Terminators !!! … unsurvivable … WIN WIN WIN !!!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=165&v=3lvTSss9KkE

    “wouldn’t piss on you if you on fire” SNOG

  • jerry

    dont worry giltch mob, tipper just DESTROYED everyone in glitch hop.. good luck bro bruhs

    • ben

      but keep working on a live set ha ha, no one cares how you play it live as long as its good 🙂

  • jerry

    dont worry giltch mob, tipper just DESTROYED everyone in glitch hop.. good luck bro bruhs

    • ben

      but keep working on a live set ha ha, no one cares how you play it live as long as its good 🙂

  • Dave

    I was impressed with the video until I saw the show last night in Berkeley. While it looks amazing, they were pretending to drum and trigger a lot of the show. I perform music and am a drummer so I could tell. Pretty sad to watch.

  • Dave

    I was impressed with the video until I saw the show last night in Berkeley. While it looks amazing, they were pretending to drum and trigger a lot of the show. I perform music and am a drummer so I could tell. Pretty sad to watch.