Machinedrum at Refuge
Written by Shay Davis on January 7, 2014
On December 28th, Bubblin and RBMA teamed up to present Machinedrum – Vapor City Live, a Travis Steward project, at Refuge in SE Portland.
Machinedrum’s latest album Vapor City (Ninja Tune) refers to an imaginary city; ten tracks finds Steward experimenting with rhythm sounds, accompanied with piano-laced footwork, rabid percussion, floor-bending bass and floating jazz-influenced hip-hop. The show was a live exemplification of what Steward’s album is about: rhythmic expressions comprising of multiple sound samples made the audience move, while the accompanying visual images took listeners to “Vapor City,” a fictional metropolis with multiple districts, giving a video game vibe infused with the musical performance.
Known for multiple aliases and projects since his first release in 1999, Steward appeared to relish his stage time utilizing multiple instruments including playing a bit of guitar while singing, and even taking the time to dance for the audience at one point. Steward shared the stage with his drummer, who took to the crowd as well, filling the venue with his remorseless and passionate drumming.
The show started off very strongly, with the crowd swelling to Steward’s rhythm effects, especially with the track “Don’t 1 2 Lose U,” launched the crowd into exaltation. As the show wound down, “SeeSea” was the transmission into Steward’s more inner side. With his guitar and echo vocals in one of his final songs, Steward was singing “miss you.” The repetitiveness and intimacy of the melody harkened infant memories, likely because its poetic message and innocent approach to the composition worked perfectly to transmit the artist´s personal message.
The performance was all about having a great time, not only because of the several drunken audience members that went on stage, but also the encore left the crowd with the feel good vibes.