Gold Panda – The Bowery Ballroom – August 2, 2012
I’m stuck in fictional 2010, feeling like I just graduated college. I’m still hopeful about the Obama presidency, and my favorite album is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I’m like the show Newsroom—I imagine an idealized version of the proximate past where I do everything right. And in my retelling, I didn’t miss Gold Panda open for Four Tet during CMJ. I didn’t underestimate how long it’d take me to get to Webster Hall. I didn’t waste time eating a weak Japanese meal. Instead, I saw both acts and was blown away by each. And now, fast-forward to the present day, when I’m writing this review with an interesting context for the show I just saw: an extension of the great show I’d seen before.
Now, Gold Panda is two years removed from his critically acclaimed album, Lucky Shiner. He’s reached that critical juncture where he will be defined by what he does next. And so far, in 2012, GP is on track for repeat success. His new single, “Mountain,” is heady and spatial, a mental “Dancing with Myself.” It signposts that the producer and performer would bring his unique vision and talent to bare with the wisdom of experience. And, at the onset, it was clear he’d acquired an advanced sense of pacing and the attentiveness to the needs of his audience.
Gold Panda folded songs’ structures onto themselves, revisiting rhythms on top of melodies and jumbling together the two. When, midway through the set, he blended into the ultimate crowd-pleaser, “You,” it gained pace and impressiveness with an extended introduction tapped out on an MPC. It was, like his other robotically talkative pieces, a Peter Frampton–influenced triumph of language over noise; we hear words in the modulated stew of sound. And behind a similarly hazy yet familiar set of images, the performance felt like popular dance music drugged and sped up through a cassette player. There was a sense of nostalgia in the music. I entertained the past and enjoyed the thoroughly present. —Jared Levy