For my first-ever concert at the Fox Theater in downtown Oakland (save the judgment, I’m still new to the Bay area), I had the good fortune of seeing not one, but two of the biggest house-music artists known to the animal kingdom, back to back. That would be the “Hounds of Hell” Tour joint headliners Tommy Trash and Wolfgang Gartner, who each bring a larger than life presence all their own. But when put on the same stage by the mysterious (but much appreciated) cosmic EDM forces at play, their combined abilities as showmen made for an epic, one of a kind spectacle.
Speaking of spectacles, I have to give kudos right off the bat to the two of them for their creepily fantastic stage setup, which was a cemetery scene that seemed to be ripped straight from the pages of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It really showed the duo’s level of commitment to their Halloween themed tour, and given my “undying” (corny, I know) appreciation for this holiday, the whole presentation made me about as giddy as my first time trick-or-treating. I mean, in addition to the usual LCD displays and lasers, they had a wrought iron fence, headstones, and light-up crosses. It was wild.
The visual presentations on the displays were likewise exceptional. Wolfgang’s was particularly impressive, taking the audience along a twisting bird’s eye fly-through of an old stone cathedral, as well as the outline of a severed werewolf head bobbing up and down as if running without a body. Or maybe it was dancing? In any case, the visual aesthetics of the production were phenomenal from start to finish.
As for the music, it was as energetic, inspiring, and perhaps most importantly, unique as I could have possibly expected. In case you failed to read my preview article for this show, it bears repeating that these two producers do not simply “hit it and quit it” so to speak—“it” being the play button in this case. Without naming names, there are plenty of electronic artists that would prefer to crowd surf or spend the bulk of their time onstage jumping around like wild monkeys to their own music. But not these two. Tommy and Wolfgang prefer to hover diligently (or in the case of the former, head-bang like Kurt Cobain) over their sound equipment and arrange audio or midi clips on the fly, while simultaneously applying subtle, but noticeable filter sweeps or other tonal elements to the beats being jettisoned toward the crowd. In my opinion, this is the mark of a true master producer, and separates these two from the mere button-pushers of the EDM world.
This is not to say that I don’t also appreciate EDM artists having their better known hits play a bit longer, which thankfully Tommy and Wolfgang both did. In fact, I was somewhat surprised that each independently played their collaboration track for the tour, also titled Hounds of Hell, instead of simply having one join the other onstage while it was played. Oh well, double the pleasure, double the fun!
I can’t forget to mention that the opening acts, Charlie Darker and Bass Kleph, played their part as well, and had the crowd pumped up from the minute I walked into the majestic Fox Theater.
In all, it was a Saturday night I will not soon forget, and served to reinforce two things in my mind: 1) While electronic music is computer generated, it never hurts to insert a human element, especially during live performances; and 2) Halloween is freakin’ awesome.
If after reading this thoroughly amazing review you feel the need to see the Hounds of Hell in concert, make sure to head down the 5 to San Diego for their final performance on November 2nd. Tickets can be purchased here: http://www.ticketmaster.com/