Minutes before Meat Beat Manifesto took the stage of the Grog Shop last night, the crowd swelled. During opener Badawi’s opening set, most of the audience looked bored and anxious. Playing behind a screen, Badawi’s Raz Mesinai could barely be seen, as he performed a set of bassy dub and noise. He picked up some speed near the end of his slot, but the crowd was clearly itching for the main act ...
And as soon as Meat Beat Manifesto walked onstage, those previously blank screens began filling with trippy imagery – a crucial part of the show that would turn our to be just as important as the music. The set was, in essence, a sensory explosion. Frontman Jack Dangers and his crew -- including a live drummer -- went straight into dub territory. It was a smart choice, since it quickly turned the Grog Shop into a full-on dance party. Those who weren’t busting moves were drooling over the band’s stage gear -- a truly massive and impressive bank of samplers, keyboards, laptops, and other gizmos.
Keeping old-school fans happy, Meat Beat went straight into classics tunes like “Helter Skelter,” “God O.D.,” and “Edge Of No Control.” Dangers took over vocals on the last two songs – a rare sight, since he spent little time behind the mic last night. Too bad, because both cuts were highlights of the concert. The sampling pioneers mixed in some new material too -- notably “Return to the Bass,” a low-end jam from its latest album, Autoimmune.
Meat Beat played a career-spanning set that chronicled its forays into industrial, drum ‘n’ bass, hip-hop, dub, and everything in between. The only downside to its nearly two-hour set was that the onstage screens obscured the band from much of the audience. But the mind-blowing videos more than made up for it. Instead of just unspooling reels of kooky clips, the images were manipulated live from the stage – just like the music. After almost 20 years, Meat Beat Manifesto can still find exciting new ways to rock their fans. --Eddie Fleisher