There’s not much to look at at a Gold Panda live show – just a young man called Derwin bent over a tabletop of flashing LED lights, a chaos pad, some wires, some triggers and an Apple MacBook, which tonight Gold Panda has forgotten to plug in. Halfway through a set that opts for techno bangers over the personal nuances of Derwin’s debut album, ‘Lucky Shiner’, the digital instrumentalist legs it off stage. He returns triumphantly with a white mains adaptor, hits five buttons simultaneously to abruptly end the deafening, stuttering house samples and yells, “THANK YOU!” It’s the first moment of silence in half an hour, which is soon filled with the first whistles and cheers of the evening. Before then there simply isn’t time or space for vocal appreciation. “I forgot to plug this in,” he says, “which makes me pretty stupid.”
Derwin – forever putting himself down while electro fans herald him the lord of down-tempo trance (not unfairly) – clearly hasn’t changed, but his live shows have. There’s still not much to look at, but we all look at him anyway, and he seems to enjoy reassembling his tracks these days, unlike before when he freely admitted to not being gigging’s biggest fan. The more he nods, the more we do, and Derwin nods hardest to his new trance beats that rattle the iron staircase in the corner of the room.
He’s more fluid at slipping from one banger to the next too, which is a point best proved when ‘You’ is introduced with an adlibbed break-beat, drummed out by Derwin’s rapid index fingers. It’s the track that, when dropped, gets the loudest reception, which wouldn’t be a surprise if the closing song wasn’t a rare appearance of ‘Quitter’s Raga’ – the playful, free-formed glitch single that put Gold Panda on the bedroom-produced-electro map. It’s still joyous and brilliant, but clearly no longer the fans’ favourite. Because while there’s not much to see at a Gold Panda live show, there’s a hell of a lot to hear, from brutalised versions of album tracks to new, smart house that’s been born loud and rave-ready.
By Stuart Stubbs
Originally published in issue 26 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. March 2011