Underworld at The Fox Theater,
Underworld (photo: Ian Young)

Review & Photos by Ian Young

Imagine your parents at a rave. Or at some hip bottle-service Vegas club.

And you’re there, too. And all of you are dancing your fucking faces off.

Underworld released its first album in 1988, gained notoriety thanks to Trainspotting in 1996, soundtracked the Olympics opening ceremony in 2012, and played Coachella just last week. This is a band that has existed before most genres of electronic music were invented, and yet vocalist Karl Hyde and keys player Rick Smith have always managed to stay ahead, sound relevant and appeal to anyone who wants to shake their ass.

That may include your parents.

Underworld at The Fox Theater,

“I like the Fox. It’s fancy,” says Hyde, greeting the crowd of hip soccer dads, burners, recovering club kids, 20-somethings and parents-of-20-somethings.

Hyde, who is almost 60 years old, is a front man who can captivate any size audience with just a microphone, some well-honed dance moves and pure contagious joy. He sashayed, thrusted, bounced, and swayed across the stage, punctuating the kidney-shaking bass-heavy beats that underpinned most of the songs. He sang, spoke or rapped his lyrics with confidence, going from smooth and hypnotic to manic and energized, especially when it came to delivering the signature “lager, lager, lager, lager” chorus from “Born Slippy .NUXX.”

The band’s set comprised songs spanning most of its career, including a handful of tracks from the latest album Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future (and in case you didn’t know what song was being played, a giant LCD screen in the background flashed the titles).

Underworld at The Fox Theater,

After opening with two tracks from Barbara Barbara, it was the signature beginning of “Dark Train” that really got the crowd moving. Hyde walked off stage for the song, leaving Smith and touring member Darren Price in charge of energizing the dance floor — something they are both very good at doing. Hyde returned and the band launched into the live staple “Juanita: Kiteless: To Dream of Love”, following it with a pair of newer songs.

The last half of the set was a frenzy of crowd favorites, including “Push Upstairs” and “King of Snake” from 1999’s Beaucoup Fish and “Rez” and “Cowgirl” from the now-classic albums Second Toughest in the Infants and Dubnobasswithmyheadman. Hyde and Smith closed out the two-hour show with their aforementioned Trainspotting hit, “Born Slippy .NUXX.”

Underworld is a band that creates music that fuels movement. It doesn’t care what decade it is or what sub-sub-sub-genre of techno it should fall under. Underworld just makes you want to dance, sweat, and smile until your cheeks hurt. Now that’s timeless.

Set List

I Exhale
If Rah
Dark Train
Juanita
Ova Nova
Nylon Strung
Two Months Off
Eight Ball
Jumbo
Ring Road
Push Upstairs
King of Snake
Faxed Invitation
Dirty Club
Low Burn
Rowla
Rez
Cowgirl
Born Slippy .NUXX