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Review: Oneohtrix Point Never at Vivid Live

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While Vivid is now fairly well known for its crowd drawing spectacle, it has become more of an overstuffed family friendly claustrofest in recent years. Braving not only the cold but also the immense crowds, it’s definitely worth it not just for the lights, but also the music.

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Vivid Live has brought some of the more forward thinking and exhilarating alternative acts from both past and present to the many stages of the Sydney Opera House. Of no exception to this was Brooklyn based experimental musician, Oneohtrix Point Never. Whilst still not a household name, Daniel Lopatin has created a body of music that is as envelope pushing as it is mysterious.

While the assumption may be that, being an electronic musician, his live show would not translate well to the seated Jane Seymour Theatre in the Opera House, this is far off the mark. Performing live with video artist/guitarist and long-term collaborator, Nate Boyce, the show was a disconcerting barrage of Lopatin’s dark aural splendour. The audiovisual meld was a mesmerising, technopagan conceptualisation of 2015’s Garden of Delete, one which, at just under an hour and a half, felt woefully short lived. Despite this, the set was a robust suite, further enhanced by the uncanny valley visuals by Boyce.

While the frenetic rush of tracks like Sticky Drama and I Bite Through It are thrilling on record, the live renditions really cement the trans-human power of the songs. The addition of live guitar really helped translate the work to the stage as well. The slower, more cinematic tracks also translated really well to the stage, with songs like Mutant Standard taking full advantage of the Opera House‘s acoustics and further hammered home by the post apocalyptic scenario taking place on screen. While the music may have been uncomfortably awe inspiringly, it wasn’t without levity. With a vocal processor still warping his voice, Lopatin joked in between songs, teasing early on with “we’re gonna take a short break now” pausing for effect and then relenting with “nah we’re going to keep playing”.
With all the choices Vivid could have chosen for live acts this year, OPN was definitely one of the better ones (if not the most esoteric). While some may have walked out during the set, it was impossible to deny the sheer power of the music. It’s all down to Lopatin’s knack for creating an atmosphere that these songs both create, and the dark areas of the mind they further inhabit and remain in long after the show is over.