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A dazzling return home for Boston native Oneohtrix Point Never


The sense of anticipation in the air was palpable on a dreary Sunday evening in the heart of Boston’s theater district, as native Massachusetts son Oneohtrix Point Never, or OPN to his fans, was preparing to take the stage at The Royale to perform the penultimate show of his highly touted Again tour.

Even for an artist as celebrated as OPN, it’s got to be special coming back home. He didn’t disappoint, and between the endlessly interesting soundscapes and mind-melting visuals (plus a well-delivered “let’s go Celtics!” shoutout from somebody in the balcony), I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to a show quite as engrossing, on an auditory, visual, and spiritual level, than the one I was lucky enough to witness at The Royale last Sunday.

Oneohtrix Point Never is a musician’s musician, an artist’s artist. He’s done film scores, production work, and worked with tons of cool artists in various mediums all while creating his own distinct sound and aura over 15 years of releases. He’s got an expansive universe and an expansive sound that sprawls into several genres at once to become something wholly unique. I always wonder how artists like that will translate to a live setting, how they’ll manage to pull it off. OPN did not disappoint on this front.

The show had a depth to it that mirrored the depth of OPN’s music on record. Openers Pedagogy (Eli Keszler and Nate Boyce), locals from Brookline, set the scene with an avant-garde set of experimental music that injected some rhythm and otherworldly vibes into the crowd. Their set helped move my brain from “I wonder how late I’m going to stay… it is a Sunday after all” to “let’s hear and see some awesome shit”.

Once OPN took the stage, it felt like I was transported to a different realm entirely. He had a mad scientist-like scene of computers and various electronic instruments, and you could feel his immediate command over his audience. The visuals that he had accompanying the music were at a level that I don’t recall seeing before at a show perhaps ever.

Helped by multi-disciplinary artist Freeka Tet, they made for an incredibly sensory experience, as throughout the night the screen behind OPN would switch from flashing concrete colors (like the red and blue of Mutant Standard) to showing rapidly shifting cut-up montages of what looked like video games characters and various pop culture references that clearly have some meaning within the Oneohtrix Point Never universe.

My favorite part was that Freeka Tet continually filmed a mini figurine that OPN set up near his computer, and throughout the night that mini figurine would be shown on the feed rocking out as if it were the real OPN. All very meta, but in a cool and fun way. After playing one of his first songs, “Zones Without People”, OPN thanked the crowd in a robot voice, which only heightened the otherworldly, futuristic feel that ran throughout the entire gig.

He ran through a few numbers from Again, such as “Krumville,” which translated really nicely to the live setting. It broke a bit from the more heavily electronic and experimental nature of the night, and was I think the only song to prominently feature an easily identifiable guitar. The OPN mini-me was certainly rocking out, Kurt Cobain grunge style. The energy was high throughout the evening but got ratcheted up a notch when OPN tossed the crowd a bone with fan favorite “We’ll Take It”. If you showed up expecting easily discernable song beginnings and endings with small talk between songs, you might’ve had a hard time.

The set flowed together as one, mimicking a night jammed in a small club where you don’t know if the sun just went down or just went up. OPN asks you to leave the regular world outside and step into something else, and he creates a clear avenue for you to do so. Just look, listen, and feel the music and the scene. Aside from mentioning how glad he was with the audience and to be back in Boston (you could feel his genuineness), he stuck to the point. “The adventure continues, no one wants to hear me talk anyways,” he said to a crowd that would’be hung on his every word. He was to the point; another thing that I really enjoyed about the show.

Between the music, the visuals, and the overall feel of Oneohtrix Point Never’s whole artistic being, it truly felt like I had stepped into a different time and space continuum from the one that I had been in just a few hours before. Forget about Monday morning, forget about all that normal stuff.

This was a spectacle that took my brain chemistry and turned it upside down for an hour and a half, and had me wondering at various times, “how’s he doing this? Where are these pictures and sounds coming from?’ It took me out of myself, and that’s my favorite thing that can possibly happen to me when I go see a show. So, kudos to OPN, and I hope he enjoyed being back home as much as we enjoyed having him here. That somebody who has roots in the same hometown as me (Winthrop, MA, where I grew up) could create such an interesting and expansive world was inspiring to me as well. I had gone into it not having known much of what to expect, and left a new fan. That’s why music is awesome.

Photo by Andrew Strasser & Shawn Lovejoy / Joe Perri, courtesy of the artist

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