Though I’ve seen Shpongle perform many times, I don’t think it could ever be considered the same experience. Whether its performing in a psychedelic tower passing off as a DJ booth, or on a standard plain table, accompanied with a live band and dancers, or just as his wonderfully insane self, Simon Posford has rarely delivered anything but musical experiences as crazy and mind expanding as the chemicals which inspired them. This past weekend at New York City’s Irving Plaza, Simon introduced the masses to his latest mindtwister; the newly famed Shpongletron 3.0. Keeping in similar fashion to my previous experiences, it left me completely Shpongled.
Starting off the night was New York City’s own, an artist by the name of Lonshi, who kicked off the crowd vibes with a high energy electro-house feel. While not what I would have expected to be opening, he definitely connected with the crowd to create a hyped atmosphere for the night.
Next up came down-tempo superstars Desert Dwellers. Hailing from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Desert Dwellers never fail to send your ears on a journey around the world through time and space, with a sound as ancient as it is alien. Playing a much more energetic set than I was used to from them, they perfectly set up the crowd for the musical journey they were about to embark on. As 10pm came around, Shpongle took the stage and we finally got a glimpse of the wonderfully innovative Sphongletron 3.0. Featuring a DJ booth with two large face-fronting screens, a 23-foot projection mapped backdrop with ever-changing visuals (vines, tentacles, countless fractal patterns, and of course the familiar six eyed Shpongle face), along with two horn-like pillars covered in lights, and topped off with eye-like screens on either side of the setup. I was pleasantly surprised to see the familiar ‘eye screens’ from his DJ set at Unicorn Meat’s Illuminate party held in NY last September.
The whole set-up allowed for multiple images to move from screen to screen flawlessly while still managing to keep Simon front and center, dancing like a self-transforming machine elf. Stunning visual effects aside, it was the music, as always, that really made me lose my mind. Playing through his most recent album, The Museum of Consciousness, in addition to countless classics and a few new dub-leaning tracks, the set pushed two hours and didn’t drag for a moment. The climax of the night came as he dropped the first song I had ever heard of his; “Divine Moments of Truth”. The long intro built the crowd’s momentum, and when the song finally reached its peak, it was nearly impossible not to explode in a neo-tribal dance with every fiber of my being. By the time he got to “My Head Feels Like a Frisbee” the whole audience was swept away, moving and grooving in every way possible. As the show ended and the 1000 people in attendance flooded out onto the streets of New York, I had a great feeling of catharsis from having been able to let go so easily. If you’ve never had the opportunity to see Shpongle, check out his tour dates and find a show near you! This is one act which, no matter what form it comes in, needs to be seen to be believed.
Photos courtesy of contributor Greg Lorenz!