Synthpop veterans of Britain, Ladytron brought the finest sounds of symphonic electronica to San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom Sunday, September 25.
The speaker towers boomed, the crystal chandeliers trembled and Ladytron stood stiffly on stage throughout the studio-quality set. Some concergoers sat with their chins on their fists, others swayed in the pit, but overall the crowd mirrored the energy the band put on stage — sleepy.
That’s not to say the concert was devoid of true fans. Ladytron played new tracks off its latest album, Gravity Seducer, which many may not have committed to musical memory yet.
Older songs played were less hits and more B-side collection. But those following Ladytron’s evolution over the past decade have enjoyed the presence of the band’s refusal to play its popular songs. However, the best moment of the night was the performance of “Seventeen,” one of their better-known songs.
After its set, Ladytron returned to the stage following some audience members singing “oooh oooh” in a haunting, alarm bell tone. The band finally sang its most popular song “Destroy Everything You Touch,” but the majority of the crowd had already jumped at the chance to beat traffic, leaving the theater partially emptied.
Where the band’s energy lacked, the detailed, colorful and rhythmic light show for Ladytron kept the audience alive. Florescent strobing tubes coupled with roving spotlights and a light pyramid served as a nice distraction from Ladytron’s musicians who stared down at their instruments with frowns. Half of the band spent the night in the dark while the two female vocalists, Mira Aroyo and Helen Marnie were kept in spotlight.
Quite the opposite of Ladytron’s light show was the second opening act, SONOIO, a solo project of Alessandro Cortini. Cortini was crouched in the fetal position between six flashing light bulbs and even the microphone cord was a fiber optic cord that flashed in time with the music.
Cortini is a former member of industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, and the similarity in his performance and music was evident. The minimalism would have been striking in a smaller venue, but instead the performance was far too small for the size of the theater.
The SONOIO set was further contrasted by the first opener, Polaris At Noon. Orange County boys in look and pop-rock sound, Polaris At Noon sang a sweet, upbeat set and even dared to cover MSTRKRFT’s “Heartbreaker.” Though their set was foot-tapping-worthy, it sounded disjointed when paired with experimental SONOIO and electro-sonic Ladytron.
Taken as a whole, the concert was a listening experience. Intoxicated audience members may have enjoyed the lights, but when the energy of the band flat lined, so did the rest of the experience.
The opening acts unsuccessfully excited the crowd and Ladytron never engaged those who didn’t leave after SONOIO.
Ladytron’s music was on-point, but the band members looked like zombies and that negates the appeal of live music.