Dub Trio turned out to be amazingly good. They were something like a cross between Kinski and, well, Library Science (I'm not familiar enough with the dub scene to offer another band for comparison). They would start a song out as a thrashing punk rock tune and slide right into a dub groove. Then the song might shift seamlessly into a dreampop/art rock instrumental before returning to the dub, and finish with power rock guitar flourishes again. Their sound also reminded me at times of the Police and the English Beat; they could have easily done a cover of the Police and it would've fit right in. Dub Trio showed a lot of musicianship, both in their playing ability and in the composition of their music. I bought the CD, and I'm looking forward to hearing more from them.
If there is a manifesto behind Meat Beat Manifesto, it is perhaps best expressed by the sample that opened their set, a 1950s-era "robot" declaring "I AM ELECTRO". Their gear included no fewer than four PowerBooks, and I overheard another concertgoer referring to the banks of computers and electronic gear as a "technological Mecca," which was very apt. Three guys manned the electronic gear - the MBM website tells me that they were Jack Dangers, who essentially is Meat Beat Manifesto, with Mark Pistel playing additional laptop/samples, and Ben Stokes handling the dual video projections - and a fourth guy, Lynn Farmer, played a mean set of drums across the stage.
I did not know much about MBM before the show - not how long they'd been around, or how many albums they'd done, or what the hits were - mainly I knew one song fairly well, called "It's The Music," that my sister had on a CD compilation several years ago, and I knew I'd heard other songs but wasn't sure what to expect. So I was quite pleased when they pulled out "It's The Music" about halfway through the set. At the start of the set, I was still pretty close to the front and right under one of the main speakers, but I found that too overwhelming and moved to the back, where the balance and volume were better. They played quite a long set, close to two hours, with another 20 minutes or so for an encore; I stayed to the end, but by the end of the main set I'd had enough. Overall I actually enjoyed the set less than the first: Dub Trio's music is for listening, while MBM is more for dancing, not that you couldn't dance to Dub Trio or enjoy MBM as background music. Still, I do plan to pick up some of Meat Beat Manifesto's albums now, as I definitely want some of that music in my mix.