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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Enit Festival a Successful Mix of Traditional, Progressive

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Whether or not kids still break into warehouses and throw all-night get-downs (they do), and whether or not the word rave is passe (it is), rave culture has been inextricably woven into our popular fabric. The Enit Festival--Lollapalooza’s separate, after-hours rave--sanctified this evolution in popular entertainment on Monday at the Palace.

But, Enit--which ran from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.--also proved that a postmodern world of late-night entertainment doesn’t have to be stereotypically anonymous. Deejays don’t have to be in the shadows, computer-programming performers don’t have to have their backs to the crowd, ravers don’t have to be dancing in their own Warholian circles of fame. Despite theorizing about how rave represents an earth-shattering break with rock ‘n’ roll’s formula of idolatry, Elvis’ pelvis and encores, there still is, and probably always will be, a place for good showmanship.

The Enit Festival, therefore, successfully mixed the traditional with the progressive. Techno artist Moby schooled the new schoolers in punk by grabbing his guitar and covering Jimi Hendrix (“Purple Haze”), Led Zeppelin (“Rock & Roll”) and Lynyrd Skynyrd (“Sweet Home Alabama”), all in thrasher style. German deejay Sven Vath programmed jackhammer jams (shall vee dance?), New York deejay Keoki tranced the house with bullet-train beats and L.A.'s Jason Bentley tweaked the funk. Traci Lords (yes, that Traci Lords) deejayed too.

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Though the turnout was no doubt a disappointment for organizers (the event was moved from the 4,500-capacity Shrine Expo Hall to the 1,200-capacity Palace), perhaps no greater endorsement exists that rave culture’s tenets should be on tour than the four-city festival (San Francisco wraps up the tour on Friday).

Moby, playing Hendrix and his own techno breakthrough “Go” back-to-back, seemed to be as much as the stage could handle. The skinny, bald New Yorker started his set with a four-piece band and ended it alone, nude, with his synthesizer, arms out like Jesus, awash in a machine-gun barrage of white light. “I know this is supposed to be a rave setting,” he had explained to the capacity crowd, “but why don’t we, for a second, be as open-minded as we possibly can?”

Wasn’t that the idea all along?


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