Oneohtrix Point Never played Royale – 4/28

Electronic experimentalist Daniel Lopatin returned to the road as Oneohtrix last month, including a Sunday night stop at Boston’s Royale.


Lopatin began making music as OPN in the mid ’00s, coming to prominence behind a string of heady, glitched-out records like 2011’s Replica that spoke their own freaky language. In recent memory though, he might be better known for high-profile collaborations with The Weeknd (including a hand in Abel’s 2021 Super Bowl halftime show) and scoring multiple projects for between one and two Safdie brothers (including the instant cult-classic Uncut Gems and the nigh-unclassifiable Nathan Fielder/Emma Stone series The Curse). This Spring’s jaunt was Lopatin’s first full-scale tour under his moniker since 2018, and the show’s trippy conceptual framework helped to make it an especially memorable return.

Lopatin has never been one for the spotlight during performances, often set up to cede the focal point to some sort of visual accompaniment, and that was particularly pronounced in a high-concept collaboration with visuals director Freeka Tet this time around. Throughout the set, Tet directed and filmed a miniature Lopatin on its own miniature stage – complete with tiny fog banks and gear – refracting the processed footage behind the human Lopatin like a sort of warped live mirror. As a photographer shooting the performer, puppet, puppeteer and ensuing backdrop, I suppose I added another layer of visual scramble to the whole thing. It was transfixing to watch, particularly as bits of old cartoons and other video shrapnel faded in and out of the graphics mix, coming as close as I’ve ever seen to translating what Lopatin’s ranging, unpredictable productions sound like to something they’d look like.

The visuals seemed to occupy every available screen in the room, from the stage to the narrow panels on the Royale balcony overhang that rarely get a workout during a regular show, lending the set a surround-sound sensory experience. Yet while it was certainly against the point of all that, the temptation to close one’s eyes and sink into the density of the music alone also crept in from time to time. The set itself snatched up bits of various OPN eras, including last year’s LP Again, for an entrancing survey of one of electronic music’s most consistently intriguing voices.

Scroll below for my best swing at documenting the scene – a challenge distinct from the ones I usually face in this arena.