Hurricane Irene left a little dent in Tucson on Tuesday, Aug. 30, as scheduled opener Com Truise had to bail out on a Solar Culture show due to canceled flights. However, a local favorite DJ, E_RUPT, was drafted at the last minute to save the day and set the scene.
E_RUPT was a wise choice as a Com Truise replacement, as both artists understand the sublime beauty of the more-dreamlike aspects of electronic music. E_RUPT craftily blended in everything from the icy synth-stabs of John Maus to the backpack hip-hop world of Aesop Rock to the moody drones of Tangerine Dream; from 9 to 10:30 p.m., Solar Culture wasn't that far removed from a Moloko Plus singles' bar for replicants. Playing for almost an hour and a half as the small but enthusiastic crowd trickled in, E_RUPT deftly handled his duties, and his smile was infectious.
Active Child's first night of their headlining tour was also their debut in Tucson. The group is the brainchild of ex-choirboy Pat Grossi, who has moved the laptop-project from his bedroom in Los Angeles to the live stage in support of his debut album, You Are All I See. Sitting next to a bust of Greek goddess Athena and gently strumming a harp, Grossi and his two touring bandmates—a drummer and a synth/bass player—played the album almost in its entirety.
Grossi started off with "High Priestess," and his elegant harp-playing and hymnal, angelic voice offered an amazing contrast to the heavy electronic percussion. His voice, reminiscent of a cross between Antony Hegarty and Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard, was a wonder to behold, as was watching Grossi stand on his tippy-toes to hit the right register on the few songs during which he wasn't playing the harp.
"Hanging On" blended in perfectly with the sound of downtown's freight trains rumbling by; considering the song's choral-like organ and stark percussion samples of a striking bell, it wouldn't have been out of place in Ennio Morricone's vast catalog.
For their one-song encore, Active Child again played "High Priestess," albeit a stripped-down and strikingly different version. With the instrumentation turned down, this was Grossi's chance to beautifully assault the audience with his finest weapons: his evocative lyrics and his fine-tuned voice.