Boombox Babies

The only reasonable explanation for why he's hauling his ass out on the road this way is that sense of obligation to his audience. So why is he avoiding the (superior, beloved) Huskers and Sugar catalogues, meaning that the only nostalgic sing-along was 1989's ''See a Little Light''? Maybe it's that he's trying not to be Pete Townshend--trying not to wring out his old glories until they tear--but if this tour really is for old times' sake, he could at least trot out the appropriate dogs and ponies. The grim self-importance of what's left in his repertoire is a bad sign. Being motivated by the significance of his career is, in its way, as undignified as clinging to his past would be.--Douglas Wolk

Rave Reminder

Can we overcome the oppressiveness of technology with communal ritual?: the Flaming Lips at Wetlands
Andrew Goldberg
Can we overcome the oppressiveness of technology with communal ritual?: the Flaming Lips at Wetlands

Saturday at the Bowery Ballroom, a loved-up-to-the-gills crowd greeted Balearic godhead Paul Oakenfold as if the hedonistic 1988 Summer of Love had never ended. Oakenfold's epic, nearly four-hour set, all thudding 4/4 beats, vamping piano stabs, wailing divas, dizzying drum rolls, and slick ambient glazes, was transportingly cheesy, without ever relying on nostalgia for effect.

The shockingly young-looking Oakenfold (better living through chemistry, indeed), who wears his headphones like gladiatorial headgear, provided one rapturous moment after another, including a housed-up remix of Blur's ''Song 2,'' which had the crowd whooping along to its ''Whee-hoo!'' refrain. Revelers pogoed, group-hugged, drew unknowable patterns in the air with their hands, even wept. As the set reached its shuddering peak, one party-goer hoisted a Union Jack behind Oakenfold's turntables in an apparent burst of drug-induced patriotism (God save the E!). Isn't rave supposed to melt away nasty stuff like nationalism? Still, in the end, this strange, contradictory gesture was irrelevant: Oakie's beats are too universal to fly under one flag.--Ethan Brown

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