Outsidelands, San Francisco – arguably the greatest music festival in the United States as measured by the high quality of life at the consumer level and diversity in performance curation. As I’d dreamed of in the days and weeks leading up to the show, there I was, shoes off, running through the Sea of Voices in a meadow towards the Twin Peaks stage where Porter’s set was beginning. I didn’t consciously realize it was the most important show I saw all weekend, but my energy spiked to infinity the minute I heard ‘Sad Machine’ floating through the trees.
I’ve missed the boat on Porter’s whole Worlds tour, so I’m not sure whether what I saw on Friday at OSL was the full “live” show or not. He had a little keyboard he’d play from time to time, and as an advocate for taking every opportunity to incorporate live elements into a DJ performance, I really wanted to appreciate this. But the truth is one piddly little keyboard sounded like small dog farts against the stunning tapestry of brilliantly produced sounds Worlds contains. It was awkward and distracting.
Every time he threw down a little keyboard, drum pad or vocal action, for some reason I imagined Phil Collins jumping onstage and calling baloney sandwiches on the whole operation. Why Phil Collins? Because he’s a total virtuoso, duh! Drummer, vocalist, pianist, master songwriter and bagpipe player I just learned. I imagined him coming up, throwing Porter’s entire set-up into the crowd, and calling him an amateur. Then, he’d load in a whole new rig and show Porter how it’s done while the audience looked on with baited breath.
Unfortunately, this will probably never happen. Once I accepted that, a second and much more potent thought went through my mind – if Porter Robinson can have such a profound effect on me even while handicapped by his lame “live performance elements”, imagine what electronic music will be like once everyone really gets their shit together. If Porter Robinson is a top shelf act in 2015 that still kind of sucks, then there must still be so much musical greatness to be manifested. This is exciting, maybe we can bring Phil out of retirement to do a collab. Here’s hoping, love y’all.