Pendulum @ Commodore Ballroom – February 20th 2011


During this past weekend we were hit with an intense showing by Australia’s Pendulum. The reliable Commodore Ballroom was bouncing off its foundation, as the drum & bass, electro-rockers fueled through the night with aggression and precision. Opening the evening was Innerpartysystem, with their drum loops and melodic droaning vocals. The entire presentation by both bands had the floor at the venue literally bouncing with energy.

As I approached the club, it was clear this was not going to be your normal crowd. There were people dressed like nurses, people in skydiving outfits, girls dressed in bustiers and garter belts, it was quite the chaotic scene. I crept up the stairwell and as I peered over the carpeted horizon there was even more fashion based self-expression. The overly dilated pupils of the hordes of people streaming past me was amazing. This was surely about to be the most drug inspired dance party I had seen in some years.

Innerpartysystem came out from the darkness and simply appeared on the stage. Their vocalist, Patrick Nissley, made a b-line for his programming equipment and immediately started the show. The swelling crowd before him started to bound to the seductive rhythm. The sharp drum beat of Jared Piccone kicked in, bringing the complexity of the sound up a few notches. Just as Kris Barman, on synths, kicked in some digital spices to give it that perfect mix. Those in attendance lost their shit. It was a small sea of hyperactive dance moves, spastic calve extensions and Manga inspired gazes. Innerpartysystem were tremendous, a spectacle worth admiring.

Between the opener and the headliner, there was a longer than usual dry spell of auditory pleasure. Many people fled their seats and joined the huddled mass, in front of the stage. With the extended wait time, soon things started to get a little out of hand. First someone pulled the fire alarm. Then cups full of beer started to fly over head, like so many spawning salmon, breaching the surface only to fall back with a splash. It was getting exciting and the only thing playing was some top 40s rock hit from the mid-nineties over the PA system.

Finally the band made it to their post. The five piece was jumping off the walls, with enthusiasm, before they even played the first note. The MC for the band, Ben “The Verse” Mount, was like a ball of energy, just flying around the stage. When they opened their set, he was already sweating from his brow. The audience again lost control and started to become entangled in the hard rhythmic pulses the Aussie group put forth. Looking back over the crowd it was a sea of excitement, and gathering of hysteria.

The guitarist, Peredur ap Gwynedd, has more of a rock star persona over the rest of the group. He would lean back as he wailed through his licks, while the fans in front of him blew his hair around. It was strange to see the narcissistic side, from this band. I was thrown off guard by it. The bonus to this posing is it makes for great photographs. As such the flashing of point-and-shoots from the gathering in front of him was constant and continuous.

The rest of the members seemed to be wrapped up in the moment. Fueling their actions with raw power and pushing our an atomic blast of drum and bass. For the first time in my experience, the Commodore Ballroom literally was bending at the center. I mean I have seen the floor bounce, and I have felt it under my own weight. But standing back you could clearly see the center of the room flex down and then back up. It was a magical moment, that I am sure the rest in attendance hadn’t noticed as the MDMA raced through their blood.

I was really impressed with how cohesive this group is live. Stories have been told of the live shows, that are near infamy for this band, but I had never experienced it. I will say that Pendulum is the type of band that cannot be recorded, nothing of that much pure power can be bottled, it is impossible. Spending some of the next day checking out a few songs I had available, it was clear. In order to get another fix of what I had been introduced to just the night before, I would have to seek out future dates of their tours to appease my newly insatiable Pendulum appetite.

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