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[Interview] James McMurtry Knows How to Folk

[Interview] James McMurtry Knows How to Folk

Americana Music Award winning rock/folk artist James McMurtry talks his latest tour, songwriting, and gives us insight on what it takes to survive and thrive 30 years in the business. 

The Glitch Mob Scores With Fans at Friday's Show

        (L-R: Boreta, edIT, and Ooah)

        (L-R: Boreta, edIT, and Ooah)

“Humble” and “energetic." These are the words that came to mind while watching edIT (Ed Ma), Boreta (Justin Boreta), and Ooah (Josh Mayer) perform. Each member of this trio is lauded as a successful DJ in his own right, but together they form The Glitch Mob, one of the most popular EDM groups in recent history. Their high-octane showmanship and approach to mixing live, originally made a name for the Los Angeles-based ensemble, but it is their obliging politeness toward fans and unpretentious relationship with the crowd that seals their place as a favorite in industrial/glitch culture. 

I reached the doors of Opera, Atlanta’s own premiere night club, Friday night around 11 pm. Elle, my contact from Liquified (a promotional group that puts on one heck of show) met me outside, and after making sure I was added to the list, ushered me into the venue. I was told I’d have full access to the club, so after securing a wristband I made my way upstairs to the VIP lounge, and along with a photographer and a few other onlookers, stood at the balcony to scope out the scene below. A crowd of fans had gathered on the dance floor, facing the stage, and the opener Organik was warming the room up.

As the bass dropped and shook the whole room, the screen behind him lit with dizzying columns and scoping revolving mirrors that morphed into gears grinding into a sea of musical glass. The swirl of orange, grays, and blues turned into warmer colors that made me feel as if I was in another world; I was drug-free but noted how the graphics alone produced a euphoric state of mind.   

At that point, I was pulled for a meet-and-greet with the band. As I noted earlier, each member of The Glitch Mob was incredibly courteous, and they agreed to take photos with everyone working backstage. I had the chance to ask them if they would be performing their remix of “Seven Nation Army” during the show. “You’re going to have to stick around and find out!” Ooah smiled and patted my shoulder as he made his way around to the stage.  

After Organik ended his set, chants of “Glitch Mob! Glitch Mob!” erupted from the audience before the guys came out and politely introduced themselves. The crowd was in frenzy as fog machines blasted from the sidelines. Suddenly drums erupted from speakers, growing rapidly faster as Boreta tapped his midi and “Our Demons” began to play. Attendees backstage marched in place in excitement, while spectators in front of me seemed to be losing their minds. The entire front row leaned down over the stage, some of them pounding their palms on the platform, while the band rocked their heads in unison. As the chorus blasted and edIT punched his synth, Ooah flicked his wrist and Boreta jumped up and down, the song then morphing into something new.

Everyone began to clap. Blue, red, and green lights pivoted back and forth over onlookers and synth vibrated the floor to no end. The Glitch Mob’s signature symbol, a triangle overlaid with two adjoining circles from their Drink the Sea album, was displayed prominently on screen, and I noticed that many fans that night sported the emblem on their traps, shoulders and necks.

Eventually they transitioned into a crowd favorite- a sampling/remix of "West Coast Rocks" from their Crush Mode mixtape. I really enjoyed the fun old-school vibe this track carried; a 90’s-esque synth-hook pulsated over images flashing on the screen of a pink and blue Rubiks cube, while red fertilized embryonic cells morphed into dominoes; overall it was very trippy. As "West Coast" concluded a sick drum fill began building, slowly and at first and then faster while the crowd looked on at attention, wondering what was next. Suddenly everything crashed to a halt as Boreta looked out and simply said, “ATL, we love you.”

Other highlights from the evening included an electrifying cover/rendition of Daft Punk’s "Derrezled" (titled "Rerezzed") with a different spin. The best part about this was that everyone could tell the guys were enjoying themselves, dancing, and even cupping their hands over their mouths in pure joy as if they had come across a surprise during their performance. They wove back and forth and ended the song pointing trigger fingers at devotees who seemed to love the attention and interaction shared. Afterward, there were some high synth-pleasers as well as heavy hitters interspersed with filler songs, but the crowd was in tune the whole time, bouncing up and down together, and ready for whatever would be offered next.   

At this point, the whole floor turned into a giant dance party. Opera was packed and everyone clapped and swayed as a little hint of the opening hook of “We Can Make the World Stop," one of their most popular hits, was offered. The excitement in the room was tangible, but before the song began we realized it was just a tease (further emphasizing again that a strong point for these guys is their ability to keep their fans amused).

The evening continued with “Warrior Concerto." Screeching violins filled our ears as everyone got hosed with more and more mist. After that, as I had previously hoped, “Seven Nation Army” rang out, and the whole crowd sang along. At the bass drop, the first of several balloons seemed to appear out of nowhere and the house began tossing them about.  

The next few songs relied less on synth, while the bass became more guttural, clashing, like thunder as vape smoke billowed, lights flashed, and security ran out on stage to pick up cans and bottles that were being thrown. By the time the band performed their latest remix of "Scullclub," drum beats clicked so fast they almost sounded like a motor.

The evening concluded with “We Can Make the World Stop” and the entire club went nuts, dancing in an almost tribal state of ecstasy. As the track finished, chants of “One more song! One more song!” rang out, but it was nearly 3 AM and the show was over. The band took a final bow and apologized for having to leave, but not before rushing the crowd to shake everyone’s hands at the front of the stage. 

As I left Opera, I thanked Elle and the gang, my ears ringing, but not unpleasantly, to the sound of cheers and enthusiasm all around. “Humble and energetic,” I thought. “I will have to see these guys again.”

Photos by Tyler Church