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Area: One -- Mobyfest

Moby & Friends Bring Magic to Tweeter Center

By Pey-Hwa Hwang

staff writer

Organized by Moby, the Area: One Festival at the Tweeter Center featured a bit of everything. With main stage artists including Nelly Furtado, The Roots, Incubus, Outkast, and Moby, every genre of popular music with the exception of hardcore boyband/Brittney pop was represented.

The festival, however, was primarily meant to be an homage to techno -- Moby’s response to other such techno music festivals. DJs Rinocerose, Carl Cox, David Meyes, The Orb, and Paul Oakenfold entertained a packed tent where glowsticks and rave style dancing reigned as large projection screens displayed abstract and animated imagery.

The tent kicked off at 2:00 p.m., but the action on the main stage didn’t start until 3:30 p.m. with Nelly Furtado. Furtado’s powerful voice was marred by her relative lack of stage presence. As the opening act, she also had to deal with a rather sparse audience. Shortcomings aside, Furtado performed a good mix of hip-hop and ballads, including her newest single “Turn off the Light,” the ever popular “I’m Like a Bird,” and her own favorite, “Shit on the Radio.”

Furtado also played guitar for several of her songs, proving that she has more than just a voice in her musical repertoire (although the fact that she can sing is definitely a good thing in the age of studio remix magic).

The crowd grew for The Roots, and one could feel the energy building. Furtado made a guest appearance with The Roots on “You Got Me.” Another highlight of their performance was when the group showed off its voicebox skills.

The pace then changed from hip hop to alternative/hard rock as Incubus took the stage, launching into its set with the fast paced “Privilege,” complemented by flashing stage lights.

Lead singer Brandon Boyd tackled a bongo drum in “Clean.” As before, the stadium continued to fill as Incubus’ set continued, and Boyd addressed the crowd when starting into “Nice to Know You,” and then upon stripping off his shirt he sang “Glass” off an older album, S.C.I.E.N.C.E.

The band proceeded to build the crowd up to fever pitch with “Nowhere Fast,” and the hit single, “Drive.” The momentum carried into a promotion for their upcoming album, Morning View, with the melodic “Warning.” A couple of mellow tunes later, “Nebula” had Boyd jumping all over the stage and featured Mike Einziger in a guitar solo. It showed potential for much more, but also showcased the considerable talents of drummer JosÉ Pasillas. The set closed with a didgeridoo solo by Boyd in “I Miss You,” followed by a dancing, screaming, headbanging crowd as Incubus pulled out all the stops for their single, “Pardon Me.”

As the sky grew darker, it was time for Outkast to bring back the pace of fast hip-hop. They filled the stage with backup singers and dancers, a guitarist, a bassist, and a DJ, in addition to the two main members of the group for “Gasoline.”

Their set, far more elaborate than the sets of the previous acts, transformed the drab Tweeter stage into what looked like a huge underground cave.

The great majority of the crowd had arrived at this point, and arms were up in the air waving and clapping to the infectious beat. The pace was kept high and fast with pieces like “Elevators” and “Gangsta Shit.” Then, to take the already frenzied pace up another notch, Sleepy Brown came out in a huge oversized fur coat for “So Fresh, So Cool.”

After a few songs which would have been great break dancing music, one of the back-up singers, Slim, sang a slow gospel-like melody, letting everyone regain a normal heartbeat. This was just a temporary lull, though, as Outkast soon pulled out “Rosa Parks” and “Ms. Jackson,” and there was no turning back as they hit “hip-hop on crack” and broke into “Bombs over Baghdad.” This piece sent energy waves through the crowd, and anyone who wasn’t already standing was forced to his feet. With the crowd demanding more, Outkast left the stage in a flourish of line dancing.

Finally, night fell upon the concert and Moby was ready to take control. The lights went out, the glowsticks came out, and a spotlight focused on a group of three women wielding classical string instruments. They played the other-worldly “Hymn,” which accented the uber-DJ’s Moby’s entrance. In a blur of flashing lights and fog, Moby bounced like a rubber ball around the stage in the next two pieces, “Mach 2” and “Go.”

He worked synthesizer one moment, danced another, and played bongos in the next. Then the mood hushed a bit for the popular but mellow “Porcelain.” Out came a guitar and Moby displayed his pure enjoyment of music as he ripped off short riffs of various classics like “Sweet Child of Mine” and then played his “Grooverider” remix of the James Bond Theme.

The mood changed yet again as he made an allusion to R&B in what he called a “dirty, sexy, song...Honey.” After “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad” and a few lesser-known songs came the calm after the storm. The chart-topping, genre-inventing “Natural Blues” and “Sky” relaxed the crowd.

Oddly enough, Furtado made yet another appearance as Gwen Stefani’s counterpart in “Southside.” She ate up all of the crowd’s energy in her smile as she ran off the stage giving Moby a big kiss on the cheek.

After a few more songs and acknowledging the rest of his band, Moby brought the concert to a rather anticlimactic ending as he stripped off his shirt and then moved his arms to a thumping beat which got faster and faster and ended with him standing on top of a synthesizer, arms stretched above his head. Perhaps a good symbolic ending, but with all the energy that preceded it, it just didn’t seem to fit.

Area: One rocked, raved, and rapped its way to a wonderful day of the best of all the worlds of popular music.