Plaid / Vibert Show

I checked out the Plaid / Luke Vibert show last night. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to an “electronic” show, and I think this was the first show I’ve been to where the laptop computer was the primary instrument.
Chris Clark started things off (when I got there at least) by running around between an laptop, an MPC, a fancy CD player, a mixer, and some other unidentified piece of gear (another sampler perhaps – or maybe a rack mounted synth). The music was good, and I was satisfied that he was busy pressing buttons and twiddling knobs to hit the audience with room thumping beats and electronic squeals.
Vibert, on the other hand, uses only a laptop to perform. (Look at this picture to see his entire performance.) I’m sure he was working hard back there on the other side of the screen, but how do we know he wasn’t just playing solitaire back there? Well, actually, I know this because I could see his computer screen reflected in a mirror behind the stage. Still, I don’t think it’s much of a performance to stand behind a laptop. Plaid did the same thing, but with visuals. I can appreciate that.
I suppose live electronic music performances have changed quite a bit since I saw Orbital around 1994 or 1995. At that time they were bringing their entire studio on tour with them and adding all kinds of lights and visuals. Laptops have lightened the load, but they’re even less interesting to watch than a bunch of knobs and buttons.
Overall though, I’m still really happy to see studio-based artists performing live. Sometimes you just need to hear loud music in the company of other fans, put a face to the sound, and applaud the artist.