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04/17/2004: "dots and droops."

Saw Stereolab last night, and couldn't help feeling that their days as a dynamite live act are long over. Maybe it was because Irving Plaza was uncomfortably packed (mostly indie kids, industry goons and crusties who looked like they'd done nothing over the past ten years 'cept smoke weed and listen to the 'Lab), or maybe it was because the hyperactive lighting washed out the screen behind the band, making the video projections look dim and faded. The night was short on transient-random drones, and high on marshmallowy disco-pop numbers--they played a lot of the upbeat songs from Margerine Eclipse, which I adore, but sometimes I think the perfect Stereolab show would be 'Jenny Ondioline' for 90 minutes . . .They were totally competent, don't get me wrong--just lacking that certain Stereolab je ne sais quoi. Dunno if it was the missing Hansen factor or what. Much as I love their new stuff, I think I'll be content with 'Lab-as-ace-studio-band and ditch the temptation to see 'em live from now on.

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