ESSAY BY THOMAS KELLEY
PHOTOS BY CHRIS MØLINA (Auburn Sky)
From June 2015 to April 2016, the British techno legends Underworld performed a series of acclaimed live shows in California, from the Hollywood Bowl to Pomona's Fox Theater to Coachella. Part of the We Face a Shining Future project produced by photographer Chris Molina and writer Thomas Kelley, this essay and our companion photo diary reports on these events, explores in depth the band's new album Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future, and delves into new corners of the band's evolving story.
And so it goes. "LET'S DANCE!" he said to the crowd. It could have been Prince. It could have been Bowie. It could have been Hyde. The unmistakable kick drum left no doubt, pounding like a steam train as the rainbow chords of "Born Slippy" bounced off giant hanging cubes and the shirtless bronze bros of the Sahara Tent. Like the snake eating its own tail, we were pushing through the past to get to the future. Once again, Underworld was taking us there. "Drive boy dog boy," Karl Hyde sang as everyone went for it. "Dirty numb angel boy, in the doorway boy… And tears boy… You had chemicals boy… Acid bear boy… Derail…" Those words could have described the scene in the desert. Coachella's vibe was elemental. The dust and wind howled outside, darkening the festival lights and halting the Ferris wheel. In a night of ghosts, bodies were angling and shoving. The young emissaries of EDM bumped to rhythms that pulsed long before time thumped in their baby hearts. The smell of vomit mixed with pulverized grass. "Step the fuck back!" the boy yelled. "Get back! Get baaack!" Snapping his body and bringing up his fists, crouching down like a caged animal, his eyes popped with fury. He and his girl and their friends had cut in front. I was trying to get back to Chris Molina, for us to go get some shots from the rear. What grenade went off in this poor kid's head? I shrugged.