Show Review: Baths with Dntel at Slim’s

Originally published on December 21, 2011

Baths with Dntel :: 12.15.11 :: Slim’s :: San Francisco, CA

Baths by Annelise Poda

Electronic dance music fans came out to Slim’s last week to enjoy a Thursday night of spacey, intricate beats from Southern California producer Baths. Though his sample-heavy music may first appear mellow, especially when listening to the recorded tracks, its weighty rhythms and affable lyrics make for a really energetic live show. The originally chilled out crowd was transformed into an animated ocean of dancing movement as Baths’ ambient tinged songs grew into thumping, convulsive tracks. Blue and green alternating stage lights provided just the right amount of glowing light to set the tone for a night of dreamlike dance music from some very talented artists.

Dntel opened up the show, and his pulsing, bass smeared songs locked everyone into a good mood straight away. Dntel, whose real name is Jimmy Tamborello, is perhaps best known for his work as the producer half of critically acclaimed project The Postal Service, where he collaborated with singer Ben Gibbard to mix raw emotional vocals into snappy indie-electro tunes. His performance at Slim’s was deeper and much more experimental than the radio friendly Postal Service, and he took the crowd on a trip with a DJ set of merging ambient tracks that were constantly picking up and slowing down, with piano note accents and mumbled vocal tracks. People had different reactions to the hypnotic, grooving sound waves coming off the stage. Some stood still, gazes transfixed on Dntel and the warping projections broadcast onto a tablecloth below his laptop and mixing board, while others aggressively bent and shook with their whole bodies to the momentous beats.

Baths by Annelise Poda

The break between sets did not last long, and Baths (AKA Will Wiesenfeld) took the stage to play to a very excited crowd. Wearing glasses and a wide grin, Baths was just as amped up as everyone in the audience, and he jumped into his set of layered samples, glitched-out beats, and reverberating vocals. He had a very lively stage presence as he bounced around his sound setup, twitching and nodding as he tweaked knobs and sang out lyrics. He played many crowd favorites, including “The Nothing” and “Indoorsy,” which had people singing along and swaying together. He occasionally went off the beaten path of his lyrical-based songs and took off on extended pounding bass jams. People adapted to the heavier sounds with giant swooping dance moves, and one group even took to forming their hands into claws and waving them through the air. It was very Where the Wild Things Are, electro style, with the occasional LED sparked fingertip appearing in the fray. “Lovely Bloodflow” also was a hit with the crowd, as Baths combined thick drum breakdowns with delicate falsetto vocals, creating a rich-textured and danceable sound.

Baths had the audience’s rapt attention as he announced that the next song had a huge drop that he wanted everyone to experience together. You could feel the anticipation within the crowd as he slowly built the track up to its breaking point, where a crescendo of sounds all came together to powerfully break into a heavy, driving beat. A giant burst of kinetic energy exploded as the crowd felt the sudden change in the music, releasing the dancing floodgates and filling the floor with a mass of jumping, gyrating people.

Baths by Annelise Poda

I’ve seen countless DJs use big drops and changes in the music to get people excited and more into their sets and the reaction usually happens naturally, but I thought it was really cool how Baths gave a heads-up about the upcoming chance to share a moment of elated exhilaration with all the other people in the room. It showed how supercharged he was about sharing his creations with a group of people that appreciate his music. The moment was a very happy one, and it was a great example of why I think he’s one of the more engaging, fun electronic acts to see live. His enthusiasm is contagious and you can’t help but get into the music with everyone else in the crowd, feeding off his energy and vice versa.

This San Francisco show was near the end of Baths’ current tour, but keep him on your radar so that you can check out future announced show dates. It’s a good bet that he will have new material and more extended sound mashes to perform, which will undoubtedly be a great chance to experience some new and creative electronic music.


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