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all words: Marcus Dowling
all photos: Franz Mahr

“I believe that a music video shouldn’t be more expensive than a house in West Virginia.” – Moby lamenting the big budget nature of the video for 2001 hit “Southside” to the audience at Fillmore Silver Spring

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There was once a time where weird punk rock kids stayed relatively true to their roots and comprised a large portion of American EDM producers. Somewhere along the way, dance music in America embraced the concept of extreme celebrity, and lost its stripped down roots. On Wednesday night at Fillmore Silver Spring, Moby had something to say about that. With a six piece band and in two hours of time, Moby reduced gaudy grandeur into rubble and reshaped it into his own unique and beautiful creation.

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Moby is a completely self-effacing auteur. Stating that 2002 album 18‘s “We Are All Made of Stars” was “the first song ever written about quantum mechanics” drew a chuckle, then a roar of approval from  nearly sould out Fillmore. Seemingly comfortable with his extreme level success as the answer to tireless effort, seeing him as this tiny, bald dynamo of punk-tinged energy was a pleasant vision.

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Current US dance pop gods like Skrillex and Deadmau5 are surrounded by massive structures (or in Deadmau5’s case masked by one as well), their electro and dubstep melodies the sonic gospel raining down on our dance floor congregation. Moby? Not so much. He’s one of us, clearly down for the party, but so supernaturally in touch with the pastoral and propulsive energies of dance that we’re okay with him being our on-stage guide.

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The man has hits. His 2000 album Play was the key that opened the lock to commercial branding of pop music, and from “Natural Blues” to “Bodyrock” to “Porcelain,” these are songs we know as an integral part of our lives, comfortable shoes for a seemingly never-ending emotional dance. Hearing them stripped down, raw and emboldened in the live atmosphere was a  joyous elegy of modern music.

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Moby’s closing, post-encore choices of covering Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” followed by his breakout drum and bass inspired 1994 hit “Feeling So Real?” Not just proof that the man has hits, but that he also respects history and is a man of substance, an honest man making an honest groove.

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Moby’s touring vocalist Inyang Bassey has the type of voluptuous voice tailor made for  Moby’s iconic creations. In many ways her response to her talent being spotlighted last night is quite telling, not just about her, but about the type of actions his music inspires. More than the legendary producer’s  prodigal handling of seven separate instruments during the concert or his revealing and charming stage banter, it was Bassey’s soulful wails that were the standout of the evening. When Moby finally introduced the band, she received two deserved minutes of sustained applause.

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Shying away from the adulation, she pointed into the rafters and noted that her parents were in attendance. The strength of the music, the potency of the message, and the appreciation of the crowd being overshadowed by the most understated but powerful of actions. Just another night with Moby.

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