Four years ago, Moby teamed up with DC staple Will Eastman to perform put on a DJ show at the 9:30 Club in honor of President Obama’s first inauguration. It ran late into the night, but the power went out on the block sometime around 1:30am, shutting everything down for about an hour.
For a bit, Moby tried to gamely improvise by turning a trash can into a drum. The effort sort of fizzled out after a manic 15 minutes or so. As We Love DC reported at the time, “many left dejected and impatient before…the power restoration.” (I too was there and about half the room departed.) But once more space opened up, the remaining people really cut loose with some dancing.
So it was something of a logistical success for Eastman to bring Moby back in a much more intimate venue at U Street Music Hall this past Saturday. Everything ran like clockwork and the sold-out show offered plenty of comfortable elbowroom for people to mill about and check out the scene.
And largely mill about they did. The scene from the back half of the concert hall resembled an art museum with really loud music. There wasn’t a lot of dancing per se as people largely turned out to look at Moby. Checking out the frontlines of the hall was a little better, but I sensed some frustration on behalf of audience and DJ as so many people turned up mostly to see the man rather than experience his set. From a vantage point at the stage right bar, a sea of people were trying to take photos of Moby with their camera phones. Moby was aware of this phenomenon and waved off at least one concert-goer who stuck a phone up a little too close to the DJ booth for a picture.
I like Moby. As a musician, he didn’t really enter my music collection until the hit album Play, as I suspect is the case with many, but I’ve picked up every studio album afterward and appreciate owning them even if I only ever give some of them one listen. He creates a pleasing ambiance with his mix and match spins on techno, ambient and soul. And he has really good taste in beats.
Moby mixed in some of his own stuff along with the likes of Underworld and Fatboy Slim. His technical skill on deck was on display. But to me, it seemed a lot more people were there to see what it was all about rather than really experience it and dance to it. Maybe it was missing something? Even a friend who was impressed with the rave vibe fostered by Moby’s set wondered, “Maybe there should be more visuals?” Whatever it was missing, more people could have put their iPhones down and enjoyed the ride.