Tour Tales

Emancipator Illuminates Boston With New Tour Surprises

Emancipator Illuminates Boston With New Tour Surprises

Just days after the release of his new album, Dusk to Dawn, producer Doug Appling, who goes by the stage moniker Emancipator, took on Boston’s Paradise Rock Club for a sold-out show on Saturday, February 2. From one funky opener to a bass-heavy closing, the music of the night served as a catalyst for some major letting go.

Just days after the release of his new album, Dusk to Dawn, producer Doug Appling, who goes by the stage moniker Emancipator, took on Boston’s Paradise Rock Club for a sold-out show on Saturday, February 2. From one funky opener to a bass-heavy closing, the music of the night served as a catalyst for some major letting go.

Opening electro act and Burning Man fave, Random Rab, was anything but filler for the evening. With past musical endeavors ranging from heading a heavy metal band to scratching for a jazz-fusion project, Rab continued to prove how apropos his title really is. With his somewhat frazzled blonde locks and black-rimmed glasses, his charming resemblance to Garth Algar from Wayne’s World fame made it easy to love him as he took the booth. The set was an eclectic medley of smooth, oscillating beats; world music samplings and his almost R&B-esque vocals that kept the crowd swaying. One standout song, “I Alone,” off his 2011 album, Visurreal, comprised an addictive bassline and passionately sung lyrics with a perfectly produced distortion. To close things out, violinist Ilya Goldberg (long-time accompanist for Emancipator’s live ensemble) joined Rab on stage for an energetic, bass-laced duo. From the looks on their faces, it was obvious the artists were having a blast. And, so was the crowd.

The night escalated to new levels as Goldberg returned to the stage – this time with Appling – to emancipate the crowd from the shackles of the workweek. This current tour features a new set display of staggering triangle-shaped canvases onto which vast arrays of colorful, visual treats project throughout the evening. Some of the most memorable images were sun-setting skies, Rorschach inkblot-like patterns, colorful geometric prisms, and my favorite, eyeballs! Though a pleasant aesthetic from any angle, the setup seemed to work best for those situated further back from the stage, with a more comprehensive view.

The set began somewhat as expected: with Appling’s intricate trip-hopping and the near-spectral ambiance of Goldberg’s electric strings seducing us into a cozy bed of hypnotic delight. The duo touched on a collection of hits from first album, Soon It Will Be Cold Enough, to new release, Dusk to Dawn. A personal favorite was “Old Devil” off 2010’s Safe in the Steel Cliffs, with its Beauty-and-the-Beast style of merging a creeping two-step with breathtaking, goddess-evoked strings.

The second half of the set, however, was not as predictable. The show took a turn for a dance party, as Appling subtly turned up the BPM, and worked some crowd-pleasing mash-ups into the mix. Standout songs included “Ready or Not” by the Fugees and “Body Movin’” by Beastie Boys, along with Outkast’s bombshell “Bombs Over Baghdad,” and even Timbaland’s coined intro in Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody” – “Dirty South/ Can ya’ll really feel me/ East Coast feel me/ West Coast feel me.” The response from the crowd was immensely positive as everyone busted a move. This uppity stint also revealed a more playful side of Appling’s exploration to fans, one that’s rarely deciphered from his intricately woven, earthy albums.

But just when the beads of sweat on our brows started to hinder our sight, Emancipator brought it back home with the silky-sweet demeanor he began with. The crowd was coddled and tucked in for the night as new mystical Dusk single, “Minor Cause,” closed out the evening in a heart-fluttering encore. Oh Emancipator, you know us too well!

An afterthought: Like a romantic partner, it’s not always easy to find a show that gives you exactly what you want, as well as a flock of surprises that exceeds your expectations. Random Rab was a joyful indulgence to lead into a set, that not only jazzed us into laid-back ecstasy, but also got us moving and reminiscing our middle school dance party days. But, I suppose that’s Emancipator for you; supplying music fit for sleep, work and play, alike. With so many complex layers, we can continue listening to Appling’s music and peel away new meanings as we go. And, those blinking psychedelic triangles will not soon be forgotten, either.

Photos by Sam Noderer / Melodysiac © 2013

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victor

February 4th, 2013

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