It’s hard to say what was the most bizarre thing about Friday night’s White Panda concert.
From the moment White Panda, the mash-up artists known for their brand of plunderphonic music, began their propelling, rhythmic pulse, they had the crowd hooked. Their hybrid of the familiar (Rap and Top-40) and the more arcane (Dubstep and House) blended seamlessly into a sometimes euphonious, always surprising, musical potpourri, akin to that of Girl Talk or Super Mash Bros. The effect is of something that adds up to more than the sum of its parts, and bleeds life into tracks we probably have heard a minimum of 50 times, either through the radio, Youtube or Spotify.
The concert, held in the SAC’s Ballroom A, was an audio and visual onslaught, acting somewhat like an amalgamation of a club and a concert. It was not uncommon, for instance, to see dancers dancing recklessly, to the point where it resembled some sort of convulsion, while nearby, people would teeter uneasily above the crowd, crowdsurfing.
And it is their music alone that could have provided the entheogen to the brazen bacchanalia that followed.
While there was no alcohol allowed into the venue, the stench of alcohol permeated the air, creating a discordant mélange of booze and sweat typically found in nightclubs and brothels. Incidentally, the music seemed to play into this energy. Possibly it was something in the vibrations as the ballroom shook as the students shook away the problems of the school week. Possibly it was the visceral nature of the music playing against the strobe light and the light show. Possibly it was the beer. Whatever it was, the audience responded to the music. Now on to the real question: Was the music good?
The music doesn’t make itself ethereal in any way, and generally lacked the type of humor that underscores the brilliancy of the genre (e.g. Girl Talk sampling M.O.P.’s “Ante Up” over “Party In the USA” on All Day’s That’s Right, Super Mash Bros’ sampling “My Neck, My Back” over “Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex”). There was one tongue-in-cheek moment in the show, when the band Rick-Rolled the audience, but rarely did the duo throw in a curveball. What all this means, in simplest terms, is that they mixed dance and hip-hop, and really no more. This sort of continuity might be ideal for some, who favor the familiarity of the music, but for purists of the genre, it lacked some of the playful novelty that the genre is known for.
Yet, this type of show is all about the visceral. No matter what, the music was loud, the lights playful, and the students commando. It’s all in good fun.
White Panda is now on tour and will be in New York on the 24th in Rochester, NY and back again December 27th, at Webster Hall in New York City.