Would you pay $150 to see a "weird, bald man," as KCRW radio host Nic Harcourt lovingly described Moby at a fundraiser last night for KCRW at the Malibu Performing Arts Center for the experimental station? Well, a few hundred people had no qualms with the "Little Idiot," as Moby likes to call himself, and shelled out big bucks in the name of sustaining their favorite local radio station.
First things, first. In the interest of full-disclosure, my relationship with Moby is somewhere between good friends and acquaintances, which is to say, he's been to a birthday party of mine, I've hung out with his band mates, Laura Dawn, and Darren Murphy, and know their drummer, Aaron Brooks, because we worked together for several years at the Village Voice, where he was an IT guy, and spent many hours explaining computerese to me. Also, I've been in Moby's hot tub, but you'll have to click after the jump to find out if anyone was naked in said hot tub.
Psyche! (No, neither of us was naked, but a rather prominent newscaster at a major network was. Cue the gossip wags.)
Onward with the totally, unabashedly non-objective review of the evening: Like Moby, I am an "unrepentant raver"—words which he used to describe himself last night—so I am drawn more to the Moby-as-dance-music artist, than the Moby-as-rocker configuration. I was shocked, shocked! I tell you to discover that I preferred the more traditional, "rockist" portion of the band's three-pronged set.
The band wasted no time turning the very civilized, seated crowd into dancing maniacs, playing their techno-heavy hits back to back, including, "Go," "Bodyrock" and "Disco Lies."
By the end of that portion, the audience was on their feet and then it all came to very abrupt, awkward halt when Nic Harcourt came out and sat on the couch, and began to ask Moby questions. I half expected them to start sipping tea.
Harcourt's interview—broadcast live—started with a Hollywood-friendly question: "If you could pick a Scientologist to kill you, who would it be? (Moby picked Jason Lee). The rest of the interview was pretty basic, how you got into music 101, fare, asking Moby about his musical firsts.
Here we learned that "Proud Mary" was his first musical memory; his first make out session that went to second base was to "Dream On," a recollection during which he shared that his current 40-something-old male breasts are now larger than the teenage girl in question, to which Harcourt appropriately warned him: "That was WAY too much information." We also learned that he was a loner who would sit in the corner at lunch and listen to Joy Division records. (Shocka!)
He explained that he thought he'd never make it in music, "and I'd spend my entire life teaching community college and that maybe I might have a girlfriend who would listen to my music."
Even though Play, his biggest record, would eventually become critically acclaimed, the initial reaction was not so rosy. "My favorite review was in either in the LA Weekly or LA Times, and it was almost like a Spinal Tap review. The writer wrote, 'There's a song on the record called, "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?' and it's because I had to listen to this album.''"
Moby's pretty self-depreciating and self-aware, and is one of the only people that's actually good at onstage banter. He told fanboy, "name-dropping rock star stories" about giddily playing "Heroes" with David Bowie on his couch; or being trapped in cocaine-addled conversations with washed out 80s rock stars talking about the Celestine Prophecy. Throughout the evening, he asked if "Everyone was still having a nice time," and explained that he wasn't kneeling in between songs to affect a "rock star pose." Rather, it was because he was old and couldn't see the set list. "So," he paused before starting the next song. "Clearly, God hates me and has taken away my hair and given me bad eyes."
With that they launched into the psychedelic, more rockin' portion of the set, that included a song that was beatboxed by their keyboardist, a rendition of "We Are All Made of Stars," and a slower, heavier version of "Porcelain." During this part of the set, audience members would be forgiven if they thought Moby had turned into a hot blond chick. His vocalist Laura Dawn (also heavily involved in Moveon) basically took over during this leg and it was divine. They ended with extended renditions of "Next is the E," and "Honey."
Afterward, we all dutifully filed in the "green room," where actress Heather Graham also hung out waiting to greet the band. Near, the end of the evening, a female fan came up to Moby and congratulated him on the set. "I feel like you're my friend, now." Yes, that will happen when your neighborhood rock star goes TMI on you.
[Photo Credits: Jessica Holmes Photography (stage, couch); Tricia Romano (crowd)]