ISAM Live 2.0: Review of Amon Tobin & Holy Other at House of Blues Boston

Amon Tobin manning the machine, I presume. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Amon Tobin manning the machine, I presume. (Photo – D. Hixon)

Amon Tobin and Holy Other
House of Blues Boston, Kenmore Square, 09/12/12

I was belly up at the Foundation Room Bar because Holy Other was playing within the hour. Everyone else in the venue was there for the headliner, Amon Tobin. I first discovered Amon Tobin in 2007 after being introduced to his masterpiece, “Foley Room”. I was enthralled with the exploration & adventure that lay within the work. None of his music came close to brushing against what could be called Pop, which excited me. What Tobin created resembled the sonic landscape of a distant dream, and I was encapsulated by its beauty and intrigue. Admittedly, my attention to his work fell by the wayside while my ever shifting focus drifted towards other bands, producers, and makers of noise.
Holy Other (Illustration - D. Hixon)

Holy Other (Photo – D. Hixon)

 Enter Holy Other. Since 2010 I’ve been obsessed with his work, and led off my last podcast with one of his tracks. He consistently lays a haunting soundtrack that reeks of the modern world and forgotten nostalgia. Holy Other is what James Blake would sound like if he wasn’t co-opted by the Pitchfork Illuminati. His set reflected his music, it was sparse, with just right space and separation. On stage it was just him, alone in black with a fold-up table and a few assorted instruments, with his creativity in full view. There was no light show. There were no shiny objects to distract. There was just the music, and the man literally standing behind it.


Amon Tobin's set was as impressive as it gets. (Photo - D. HIxon)

Amon Tobin’s impressive stage. (Photo – D. HIxon)

Enter Amon Tobin, version 2.0. His set was as opposite as you could draw up, and likely by design. The coordination between the elaborate pixel stage design, music, and projections were close to immaculate. I was blown away by the perfection of the coordinated dance between the visual and auditory, so much so, that I grew suspect to its authenticity. Tobin’s music seemed to have been compromised since 2007, and certainly no longer brushed against Pop, but was lathered with it in obscene helpings. He didn’t appear to be a fearless artist, but more a pandering professional, playing dub-step like drops for a crowd of teenage persuasion.


I still respect Amon a ton, and the show was extremely entertaining, it just didn’t seem like I was in a club watching a musician perform. It was more like I was just off the Vegas strip watching a coordinated show go through its motions, leaving much desired as far as actual performance, but maybe that’s the point I missed. Or maybe the future of EDM, especially by large acts in big venues, is more about the entertainment value, and less about the music.

(Video – K. Chandler)

D. Hixon

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