“It’s a DJ, a button pusher!” a philistine in the Planet Hollywood crowd shouted as Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, walked onstage to open Saturday’s Nine Inch Nails/Soundgarden concert.
Lopatin may indeed push buttons, or at least manipulate some among other actions that don’t involve guitar picks and drum sticks, but he’s anything but a DJ. And the sounds he delivered might have had Mr. DJ Hater and his ilk yearning for the dancefloor by the time the brief support set ended.
OPN’s music isn’t intended to make you move; it’s expected to make you think. A Facebook friend of mine called it “the single weirdest musical experience” she had ever witnessed, and that would surely make Lopatin smile. Standing behind a table stacked with a laptop and other mysterious, mostly unseen gear, the Brooklyn-based experimental electronicist presented three compositions, vibrating the room with intensity as unsettling images rolled across the video screen behind him.
The first segment began intensely and never let up, as Lopatin piled up distorted layers and twisted them beyond their original state. Piece 2 began more quietly, then grew fuzzier and louder before ending without warning. And the finale was the real highlight, an epic slab of ambient noise that shook frighteningly even as it pulsed with warmth.
How did it go over? I’d love to tell you the shouter came around, even clapped as Lopatin waved goodbye. Instead he only taunted him further, yelling, “Do something!” toward the end of the set. “He is doing something,” someone a few seats over tried explaining, to no avail.
The rest of the room? Less than lukewarm in its reaction. As when NIN’s crowd chatted through Explosions in the Sky last year or Pixies fans covered their ears for F*ck Buttons in 2010—acts handpicked by Trent Reznor (as OPN was for this tour) and Frank Black—it served as another sad reminder that consideration for one’s musical heroes often only extends so far.