The Propellerheads

The Propellerheads

Cristal, Miami Beach (Winter Music Conference) • 3.9.98

There was a lot of shit on stage for a band with only two people in it. Four decks, keyboards, drums, and a bass guitar. If it was a DAT show we’d know by the sounds of knob twiddlers having their heads beaten in by angry stage hands as the crowd filtered out.

But no tape players were engaged by The Propellerheads; instead the audience got a big taste of a high-impact extension of the live DJ experience. Alex Gifford and Will White bounced from station to station in a frenzy, with T-shirts that read “666” and “Evil,” like a couple kids with Attention Deficit Disorder at the local instrument store. Sequences would start with one instrument, only to make a new and improved racket with the next. Vinyl provided the backing tracks for extended live improvisation, with a live rhythm section providing the basics, bluesy keyboard riffs, and vinyl scratchin’ providing the flair.

For their first U.S. appearance, The Props were simply, with respect to Dan Patrick, en fuego, rockin’ the house with about an hour of continuous noise. Standing out in their set was the James Bond drenched “Spybreak!” tumbling and turning with extra help of the synthesized sounds of a Hammond organ. The old school, hands in the air, shocking return of the human beat box, straight outta the Run DMC closet, for “Props Got Mo’ Skills,” freaked the crowd as well. No wonder they’re doing tunes for Adidas commercials back home in the U.K.

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