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Underworld’s Comeback Draws in a World of its Own

In one of the band’s first shows in the States in more than four years, Underworld’s frontman Karl Hyde was the everyman’s raver as he and longtime beatmaster Rick Smith descended upon the Hollywood Bowl Sunday evening (Sept. 9). The London-based techno ingénues delivered a fierce two-hour set, which was humbly opened by fellow Londoner, renowned DJ, remixer, and producer Paul Oakenfold. From there, an eclectic mix of old-and-nu school ravers alike, with their buddies the dub gnomes and trancing glow-stick aliens, heedlessly gyrated in the confines of the narrow standing space to redesigns of the band’s most famous songs.Underworld’s delivered teasers of rhythmic samples from their upcoming album, Oblivion with Bells. Hyde, seemingly thrilled to be there, wielded his guitar throughout new cut “Glam Bucket,” and perfected his signature knob-twisting ways on the house-induced sonic of “Crocodile.” The clanging, hyperventilated percussion mixed with “King of Snake,” and a forced beat/vocal dichotomy of the groundbreaking classic “Born Slippy” gave an aggressive, interactive edge to the originals, but it couldn’t have made a difference for a crowd already so vested in nostalgia.

Whether or not Underworld’s return will gift a well-needed renaissance within the global electronica circuit is yet to be seen, however the genre’s everlasting M.O. remains: it will never take your picture while you’re dancing, it will move beyond genre-blending crossovers, and most importantly, it will do what it has always promised to do: bring the dance at any cost. Underworld certainly proved that.

We asked: In light of Underworld’s grooves in the 2006 drama Breaking and Entering, and the 2003 vampire flick, which shares the same name as the band, what song would be on your personal soundtrack and why?