all words: Christina Chaconas
all photos: Mike Danko
I have a special connection with Moby. If you don’t count the free Cranberries concert on the national Mall in 1995 (which ended abruptly after some people started throwing things), then Moby was my first concert experience. Ever. It was 1997 and the line up was Juno Reactor, Faithless (YES F-ing Faithless) and Moby at the 930 Club.
I was 16, I went to Good Counsel High School and I wore vinyl red Airwalks. This concert was monumental. It basically set the stage for what would be my “rave” lifestyle until about 2003. I danced so much at that concert I got shinsplits.
Moby had quite a following in the “dance” world but was virtually unknown to anyone else. Before the commercial success of Play in 1999, he had released 3 albums with varying degrees of success-ambient, dance and yes, punk rock. Everything is Wrong (which I still believe to be one of his greatest albums) was released in 1995. I listened to this religiously in High School. I even gave a presentation in my “Music and Art for Everyone” class about the eclectic musical styles of Moby. This was before he even ventured into his blues mixing at all.
We all know that since those early dance hit days, he has released 2 more highly successful albums, had his music used in all sorts of ads, TV shows, movies and collaborated with a variety of other musicians. He has really matured as a musician and delved into interesting musical pursuits. I haven’t had a chance to listen to Wait for Me, his newest album, but have been an avid fan throughout the years.
Needless to say, this Moby concert would kind of bring things full circle for me. As I have moved on from my young naïve rave days, I feel like Moby has moved on too. I can look back at that era with nostalgia but know that even better things have happened in between. Always, the first to declare his electronic roots, Moby has branched out into so many genres; it’s hard to even classify him.
I didn’t expect Friday to be an all out dance fest like my first concert, Moby has a broad fan base and I assumed the majority would be post-dance phase age. Still, the show was sold out, people were excited and everyone had a smile on their face. I secured a spot upstairs to easily view the happenings.
I missed most of Kelli Scarrs performance but luckily she joined Moby for the entire show doing vocals and playing the keyboard. Her deep haunting voice bordered on whiny at times but was a perfect touch for many of the female vocals in Moby’s songs. His entourage included drums, guitar, bass, violin and 2 singers with Moby alternating between guitar, congos and vocals.
Moby has said before that he tries to make his shows follow a “greatest hits” course, allowing for some new material amidst the highly anticipated favourites- “Southside”, ” We are all made of Stars”, “Porcelain”, ” In my Heart”, ” Pale Horses”. This is basically how the concert unfolded with, of course, some Moby banter in between. If you have ever bought a Moby CD, he usually has some personal manifesto/writing inside. He tried to keep his politics to a minimum .He is definitely a proponent of DC Statehood, loves Obama and is not ashamed of America anymore. Yay!
The only negative ( but funny) part of the night was watching a group of highly inebriated teenagers get so out of control that security had to escort them outside. I am not sure what they were thinking or where they thought they were. I mean, Moby? Anyway…
From the new album, “Wait for Me”, a haunting ballad sung by Scarr, stuck in my mind. Soft, sad, serene. A step away from the grander hits. “I like to make sad songs” Moby mused while swirly green lights lit the stage. It was at this point, that it didn’t even matter if each song wasn’t a huge hit or a smack in your face jump in the air celebration. This was just good music, made beautifully and pleasant to the ears.
Although calmer than my first Moby experience, I wasn’t disappointed but I wasn’t amazed. Moby is a solid artist that pleases his fans. I was thoroughly satisfied.
The night would not be complete without the obvious rave references- where Moby really got his start. Glowsticks were thrown into the crowd while eager hands reached out. “My favourite rave of all time was here in DC in 1992 called the Future Rave*. This song is for all the recovering ravers out there because I am also a recovering raver.” He Played “Go”, his classic dance hit, and for a moment, I was 16 again, dancing and thinking “wow, this is really it!”
** Future Rave was indeed in 1992 at Wilmer Park, MD and Moby did play there. I have the flyer in my basement.