Photos by Joey Pangilinan
When covering a show, I stick to a routine. I open a new Note on my iPhone and jot down set lists, ideas about the crowd, the general atmosphere, and performance energy. I stick to one beer and a bottle of water. I try not to socialize too much in case I miss a controversial comment a musician mutters under their breath into the microphone. But during Thursday night’s Giraffage show at the Independent, I found myself not only weary of my routine, but insanely jealous of everyone around me, people that had come to the show to dance and drink and dress up and weren’t letting the possibility of work the next day hinder their buzz. I wanted to do that! I wanted to put away my phone and forget my stress from deadlines and bills and outstanding parking tickets.
Because then I thought about it — what is there to say, really, about a show like Giraffage’s? I wasn’t at a loss because somehow the show lacked substance; if anything, UC Berkeley graduate Charlie Yin’s brand of sparkly, unobtrusive dance music is markedly above substance. It concerns itself with the most basic of human needs, like the need for pleasure, joy, and well-being. It’s positive in the most real sense, making you feel good about your time spent with it without actually sending any kind of message about positivity. Although intricate in their production, his electro-pop tracks shun thematic complexity, and urge listeners to leisurely meditate on something other than tax season, for instance, or trying to make profound observations in my virtual notepad. Charlie Yin likes candy and cats and dogs. Charlie wants you to like these things too. There’s no room for worry at his show.
This is why I felt anxious, why I was left floundering alone in the back while my brain scanned the gleeful crowd for any analytical considerations. Should I write about the group of friends who had prepped for the show by wearing light up shoes, and were trying out dance moves for each other in a tight knit circle? What about the guy in the button down and the crew neck sweater, clearly coming from a day job at the office, whose hair was so sweaty from dancing that he could have just stepped out of the shower? Or maybe I could find a message in the moment when Giraffage dropped Rae Sremmurd’s “No Type” while a video of two French bulldogs in baby swings played brightly behind him. No, I couldn’t. And after I left the show with no real insight, I knew that was okay. Because I had experienced exactly what Charlie wanted me to experience — a night of music that challenged me, probably more than other Noisepop show had, to simply enjoy, be entertained, and take pleasure in what this whole life thing is all about.