We stand in the courtyard of Oakland's Chabot Space and Science Center, eagerly awaiting the laser show. Sorry, eagerly awaiting Sonic Vision: computer psychedelics, no actual lasers, scored with a Moby DJ set. Thirty-eight minutes of audiovisual splendidness. Should be rad.
"We" consists of myself and three-quarters of Drunk Horse, Oakland's most thoroughly righteous Southern/hessian rock band, whose guitar-annihilating new record, In Tongues (Tee Pee), should be acquired immediately. The dudes have graciously agreed to attend at my behest.
I have made an additional request, and now, fifteen minutes prior to showtime, it is time to spring into action. "Let's go get stoned," announces bassist Cyrus Comiskey. "More stoned."
"I believe the word is 'stoned-er,'" corrects guitarist Joel Robinow.
We sit in a beat-up Toyota in a remote corner of Oakland's Chabot Space and Science Center parking lot, whereupon select members of our party get stoned-er. Urban legend holds this will enhance the experience by orders of magnitude, though only Joel can verify this right now. "I went to a Dark Side of the Moon show," he recalls of his teenage years. "I believe I was in a similar state."
"California?" inquires guitarist and frontman Eli Eckert.
No, not California. And Joel was furthermore distracted at the time. "I think I actually made out for half of it," he continues. "I went to Second Base Land, if you know what I mean."
We sit in the science center's Ask Jeeves Planetarium, a cavernous theater with a massive IMAX-lookin' screen looming overhead, blank for the moment. "This is what God's face looks like before he has an idea," Joel explains.
The theater goes dark, and God, evidently, has an idea: Let Moby DJ over some bitchin' digital animation. Radiohead's "Everything in Its Right Place" gets us started. This segues, oddly, into Audioslave, wherein we're zooming roller-coaster-style through a bizarre deep space/underwater tableau, as though Stanley Kubrick had directed Finding Nemo. U2's "Elevation" is next, as we behold a tunnel of floating geometric shapes. Very Tetris. "It's like they transcribed my mind," Joel murmurs.
Now for the Robotic Disco portion, in which robots with hearts for torsos and pelvises dance to (surprise!) a technofied Moby tune. It does not escape Eli's attention that these robots seem to be sprinkling white powder everywhere.
A White Zombie tune blares. Giant candles reveal themselves to be fingers on creepy, hieroglyphic-covered hands. There are also fireworks. Joel headbangs ironically.
Another segue. Colored dots are swirling in slow circles -- "This is inside the anal bead factory," Joel explains. The dots slowly stretch out and elongate into hornlike protrusions. "I have a fairly good idea what's going on here," Eli notes with trepidation.
A giant head takes over, alternately yellow and blue. The head is bald. Aha. "This is the man himself," Eli declares. "Moby Fetus Head." This segues into David Bowie's "Heroes," paired with cheesy home movie footage of happy children and loving parents. Very subtle. Eli offers another perspective: "These are all the alternate universe lives Moby has led."
Coldplay accompanies some generic kaleidoscopic stuff, gradually spinning into tight, concentric circles. "Spirograph!" Eli blurts, as two of the perhaps fifteen other patrons in the theater abruptly gather their things and flee the premises. Eli is empathetic: "That's called freakin' out, man."
We're in the home stretch: Moby's "We Are All Made of Stars" as seashell fragments undulate, Jolly Rancher look-alikes floating about for the Flaming Lips "Do You Realize," a giant wall of slowly opening and closing eyes to accompany Zwan's "Honestly."
The credits roll over another Moby track. "How did you like the show?" the announcer booms.
"Fair to middling," Joel opines.
"No character development," Eli adds.
Joel describes what we've just seen as "pretty much a diagnostic receipt of the entire universe as we know it, given to me with the sinewy sounds of today's rock 'n' roll music."
Well, three years ago's rock 'n' roll music. "Actually, that was just the best time in Moby's life," Eli says. "It's a love letter to himself."
"A diminutive bald man's struggle against obsolescence," Joel adds. "He's tapping us on the shoulder, like, 'C'mon, guys. Remember when I wasn't that good?'"
"I bet my dad would've thought it was really cool," Cyrus notes. "Something your dad would take you to to show you he used to be hip."
At this point, Eli would like to point out for the record that he didn't smoke any pot: "Just so you know. I have the sober perspective. And I still gotta say: I was trippin' balls. I was trippin' sober balls."
"I would've been stoked to be doing nitrous," Cyrus adds. "That would've been killer."
Joel agrees. "Even better yet, to go somewhere else ..."
"... and do nitrous," Cyrus finishes.
Perhaps next time.
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