Gold Panda – Arches, Glasgow, Sun 24 Nov 2013
Innovative, almost experimental set from the ambient electronica-house producer
From the moment he hits the stage of The Arches this evening, English ambient electronica producer (and Notown label boss) Gold Panda is having a whale of a time. (You could argue he was excited to get out and about before that – he manned the merch table during Brolin’s support slot). He leaps from one end of his tech array to the other, activating samples, distorting the bassline, fiddling with some unseen keyboard and slapping the hood of his laptop down with exuberance. Most of the audience are content to sway and appreciatively nod their heads along with the alt.house-flavoured beats on offer, but Gold Panda is here to party, dammit, and he’ll do it with or without our help.
GP’s readiness to dance like no-one’s watching is both the strength and weakness of tonight’s gig. As audiences, we need our artists to be single-mindedly focused on realising their vision, to ignore outside interference and deliver whatever it is that best expresses their desires. On the other hand, when GP goes off on a 30-minute ambient ramble, switching from sparse beats that frequently drop out halfway through the bar to over-cluttered rhythms that clash and confuse, it’s hard to stay with him. Gold Panda will obviously be hearing these tracks for the bazillionth time, so his desire to experiment and keep things fresh is understandable, but it runs counter to the desires of an audience who want to hear something they can recognise from the album.
Thankfully, there are enough moments of artist and audience synergy to make tonight a success. The four-on-the-floor techno kickdrum of ‘Vanilla Minus’ is grounded enough to get everyone on board, while setlist bookends ‘We Work Nights’ and ‘If U Knew’ are seemingly still fresh enough in Panda’s mind to resist overt tampering. The anthemic ‘You’, meanwhile, swings between the two poles, sating both our hunger for that hypnotic, pulsing groove and Gold Panda’s need to innovate. Long may he have the freedom to do so.