Like a one-man Gravitron, Panic Bomber pulls you in, spins you around, and leaves you dizzy and smiling. He looks like a neon stick figure in motion, and sounds like a male Sade stuck in a rave. These are all good things.
I had never heard of him, and then, on a recent night, I saw him. The perfomer known as Panic Bomber has no face, and boasts an unconventional fashion sense: black from forehead to toe, with what appears to be a pulsating neon bomb strapped to his chest. Although he looks vaguely villainous, the crowds that gather to watch him are filled with joy and armed with glow sticks.
"I was never really a raver," he recalls by phone, from a conveniently blocked number. "Back then I went to far more punk and metal shows than raves." That metal and punk influence explains his high-energy live performance and Halford-like fist pumping. But where do his futuristic beats come from?
In a word: college. Under the (not as exciting) name Richard Haig, the boy who would be a dance explosion studied musical engineering at the University of Miami. He spent years in regular guitar-based bands and developed a healthy sense of contempt for the dance club DJ. But in the shadows, he stalked the DJ, and dissected bit by bit what was wrong with him. "DJs just press play and get paid more than a musician would," he says, and the crowd deserves more.
This brewing resentment sent Richard to secret lair filled with samplers, laptops, and keyboards. He emerged out of isolation half-man, half-machine, all show. His demo is available for free download at panicbomber.com, and he performs this Friday at the launch of Otto Von Shirach's Flamingo weekly party at PS14.
-- Jose Flores