Chet Faker. Girls love him. Guys wish they could write music like him.
I saw Chet Faker earlier this year at The Roxy. Musically, there is no question that Nicholas James Murphy a/k/a “Chet Faker” has the musical goods. His sound (soulful, downtempo electronica) is baby-making music, plain and simple. It’s still early in his career (he’s only released one full length album, “Built On Glass” and a couple of extended plays) so it’ll be interesting to see how his sound develops going forward.
What I was more interested in observing this time around was his actual stage performance. At the Roxy, Chet Faker spent the length of the performance behind his keyboards under dim lights. On a couple of songs, additional musicians took the stage to perform as part of a backing band. This time around, with Red Bull as the sponsor of the event (and presumably a bigger budget), that his stage performance could have bit could a bit … more. The lighting at Mack Sennett Studios was definitely a step up from The Roxy’s lights, but on the large stage, it was again Chet behind his keyboards.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love his music. I even brought my LP copy of “Built On Glass” just in case I could catch him for an autograph. But truly memorable musical performances are not only auditory; there has to be a visual component to it as well … for me, it takes both aspects to make a show complete. Chet looked so isolated on the large stage. I was really hoping that he could have hired a backing band play his arrangements, or at least a some video screens to actually see what he was doing at the keyboard consoles. I mean, you can see moving around behind his instruments, but it would have been so much more effective if there were more “action” on stage. I mean, take Flying Lotus, for example. Flying Lotus performs behind his consoles, but he’s got an elaborate laser/lighting show going on around him simultaneously.
I’m not suggesting that Chet Faker needs some intricate laser light show. I just wish I could have seen what his hands were doing. There musicality and artisanship in watching a professional maneuver a drum machine and keyboards. It would have been nice to see the action on the keys.
- I’m Into You
- Terms & Conditions
- Ciggs & Chocolate
- On You (with Goldlink)
- No Diggity
- Drop The Game
- To Me
- Talk Is Cheap
If you are the kind of person who likes to check out new bands in concert, it would behoove you to not limit your perception of said band on just one performance. Personally, if I even slightly enjoy new band’s performance, I do my best to try and catch them again at a later date. There are a myriad of reasons to do this: (i) because a band that you are waffling on just could have had an off night, (ii) different venues offer different atmospheres which could really impact a band’s performance, or (ii) over time, said band’s performance could have gotten better or worse.
I saw James Supercave earlier this year at the Santa Monica Pier when they opened for Cults. I enjoyed their performance then, and I anticipated that their performance this night would be equally enjoyable. I was wrong. They were immeasurably better!
This time around, they had an energy and stage presence that I don’t recall from the first time I saw them perform. Joaquin Pastor, the lead singer, seemed to exude a subdued confidence that I don’t recall noticing the first time around; actively interacting with his band through the set. Maybe it was because he wasn’t wearing sunglasses this time around, and you could really see the music’s emotion in his eyes. Whatever it was, it was something that I noticed.
His bandmates, likewise, seemed to have more energy as well, and under the heavy purple lights, I found myself enjoying their onstage movements … and their music … especially when the rhythm picked up.
I was hoping to catch the guys after the show to ask them whether or not they would have agreed with me about comparing the two shows, and their own personal thoughts about their performance, but I wasn’t able to. Oh well. I suppose I’ll have to make it a point to go see them again.
Opening the 29th Red Bull Sound Select 30 Days In LA concert at Mack Sennett Studios was the R&B duo denitia and sene. Denitia Odigie and Brian “Sene” Marc use synthesizers to bring out a pulsing rhythm over which they croon and coo over. Their latest release, “the side fx. EP” was released by Red Bull Sound Select.
As an opener for for Chet Faker, their performance was a solid appetizer. Although there were a couple of moments where the vocals could have been better in tune with each other, the soothing effect that their music had over the audience definitely brought the sultry and seductive air to the venue.
Matthew Houck, a native of Athens, Georgia, is Phosphorescent. His music can be described as indie country and it has drawn favorable comparisons to Bob Dylan, with publications like the London Evening Standard declaring him “the most significant American in his field since Kurt Cobain” (source: Allmusic.com).
His last album, “Muchaco”, was released in 2013 was critically well received and perhaps a bit more experimental than his earlier output. Americana sounds incorporating electronic instrumentation doesn’t necessarily seem to a logical fit, but it works. Backed by a full band, the instrumentation didn’t obscure the singer’s voice, which can be described as “soulful folksy” and seemed to inflect a deep rooted emotional history of life spattered with hardship.
I’ve read that his songwriting, especially his lyrics, is superb. Since I was consumed with adjusting settings on my camera throughout his performance, I frankly couldn’t focus on the stories being sung. But based on what I heard, I’ve definitely earmarked his music to listen to in the future.
THE ACT: Little Wings | Facebook
Kyle Field is Little Wings. He’s been called a “musician’s musician” and his music has influenced a lot of popular artists (i.e. Feist’s named her film, Look At What The Light Did Now, after a Little Wings song). Continue reading
I’m a sucker for new R&B music. When I heard KCRW play Shy Girls’ Shy Girls’ “Voyeur’s Gaze” on Morning Becomes Eclectic in 2013, I was hooked. When I saw that they were opening for a band named Phosphorescent, I immediately bought a ticket. I had no idea about the headlining act, but that didn’t matter. It had been close to a year since I saw them perform, and I was jonesing to see them perform again.
The performance was short, but it was everything that I anticipated: smooth vocals over a tight knit band playing music with an 80s and early 90s R&B vibe.
The first two times I saw Shy Girls perform live, they didn’t play the song that hooked me in the first place, “Voyeur’s Gaze”. When I had asked them about why didn’t perform that song since it was the song that KCRW decided to spin, they indicated that the arrangement was a bit too complex for them to play live. They remedied the omission this time around and it was, to my complete satisfaction, performed as a song in the middle of their set.
Apparently, I was the only one in the audience excited to hear the tune. Instinctually, I yelped out a very audible, “Yes,” when the opening vocals and keyboard chord progression were played. I got a few giggles from some of the audience members around me, and under my breath, but audible, I felt it necessary to qualify my blurt with, “Can’t help it, it’s my favorite song of theirs.”
I soon realized that the crowd wasn’t here to listen to Shy Girls smooth R&B jams. I further deduced that headlining act’s style of music was at the opposite side of the spectrum because if the audience wasn’t feeling what Shy Girls was putting forth on stage that night … well, they were here for something else.
And it’s a bit of a shame. Shy Girls is a Red Bull Sound Select artist. I would have thought that Red Bull, the host of the concert series, could have done a better job at procuring a line-up that was more consistent. I went to the Chet Faker 30 Days In LA show later in the month, and I can easily say that Shy Girls would have KILLED IT if they were one of the opening acts for that evening’s music. In fact, switching James Supercave from the Chet Faker night, with Shy Girls would have been my choice.
The highlight of the evening was when Shy Girls’ covered Brandy’s “Sittin’ Up In My Room” (a demo recording of which is above). It was simple and sublime. It was a performance of an R&B classic that anybody with an inkling of appreciation for type of R&B music would have loved. I just wish more people could have truly appreciated it.
VIDEOS: The Instagram videos that I uploaded somehow got corrupted. 😦
Earlier this year, I got a call from management to negotiate a side artist agreement for a track Snoop was to be featured on. When I asked who the featured verse was for, management indicated that it was a female R&B singer named Goapele.
Goapele … that name sounded so familiar to me.
I quickly opened my iTunes and found that I had purchased a compilation back in 2004 titled “California Soul”, and nestled in as the fourth track of the album was Goapele’s track titled “Childhood Drama”. Apparently, after listening to the track 12 times to date, I’ve given the track 5 out of 5 stars. With it’s smooth production value, and dreamy vocals, I was bit surprised that I never opted to purchase more music from this artist.
After concluding negotiations on the agreement, Goapele’s manager offered to give me a comp ticket and a photo pass to her performance at the El Rey. Arriving at the venue for the performance, I got to meet Goapele’s manager and publicist, who let me know, with appreciative glows in their eyes, that Snoop had called earlier in the day to wish Goapele luck.
Goapele’s fans had arrived at the venue early like me, sitting on the steps close to the stage, bordering the perimeter of the venue. As I scanned the audience, I noticed that the audience was filled predominantly with women. Let’s put it this way, if you were a single guy, the odds … attractive odds … would definitely have been in your favor.
I made my way to the front of the stage and staked out my position, engaging in small chit chat with some of the female attendants who would occasionally peek at the photos I took during the show, smiling with approval.
The opening act for Goapele was a singer songwriter name Josiah Bell.
I couldn’t find too much about this artist online prior to his performance other than the fact that he was (as of June 26th, 2014) dating actress Jurnee Smollett of “True Blood” fame and that he was a big fan of vinyl records, so I listened to him with open ears.
Josiah is a solid singer whose vocal range, and timbre, reminded me of Brian McKnight. His music is pure R&B and I was pleasantly surprised with what I heard. Perhaps my favorite part of his set was when his band took a break, and he sang a song while playing the keys. His voice, exposed and raw, demonstrated a tenderness with firm foundation that I wanted to hear more of. I understand that he recently had a string of performances at the Hotel Café. If it was just him and his piano, I’m sure that those performances would have been definitely worth the price of admission.
When Goapele took the stage, the first thing I noticed was her fierce, blond-dyed short hair and the beautiful angles of her face. With the house lights reflecting off her gold embroidered dress, I was literally in awe of how regal and strong she looked. When she started singing, I basically fell in love.
Her music hit all the right notes with me. From powerful to playful, from longing to seductive, the music both induced me to dance where I was standing and to scan the crowd to see if I could catch the eye of a potential soul mate. Though my dancing was awkward, and my scanning was fruitless, there was no time to dwell on my own deficiencies as Goapele’s music kept flowing and had me vibing … hard. It was almost a musical soul cleansing. It was music that didn’t rely on modern day gimmicks. It was solid songwriting, enhanced by a distinctive Sade-like voice.
Having singed recently to Eric Benet’s record label, Jordan House, she had, to the delight of the females in the audience, Mr. Benet join her on stage for a number.
When Goapele’s set had finished, I made it a point to thank her team for giving me the opportunity to review and shoot her performance. When Goapele came from backstage to greet fans, I was briefly introduced to her by her manager. When she thanked me for being diligent in finishing Snoop’s agreement. I could only thank her for performing that evening so sublimely. If I had known her better, and if there wasn’t a line of at least 70 fans anxiously waiting at the merchandise booth to meet her, I would have told about the rollercoaster of emotions that she put me on that evening and that I’m making some room on my CD racks for more of her music, because having only one of her songs is simply not enough.
“[…] Josiah is a solid singer whose vocal range, and timbre, reminded me of Brian McKnight. His music is pure R&B and I was pleasantly surprised with what I heard. Perhaps my favorite part of his set was when his band took a break, and he sang a song while playing the keys. His voice, exposed and raw, demonstrated a tenderness with firm foundation that I wanted to hear more of. I understand that he recently had a string of performances at the Hotel Café. If it was just him and his piano, I’m sure that those performances would have been definitely worth the price of admission.”
“[…] I’ve always respected what Killer Mike has meant to the rap game. My level of appreciation reached an all time high after watching him pour his heart out. I’ve always assumed it, but now I knew it. He lives what he preaches, and what he preaches what matters. It matters and it’s the truth.
It made me realize that what I witnessed on that stage at the Echoplex was something that audiences don’t often get to experience. Authenticity. Unadulterated verity. With more heart … more guts … than 90 percent of the garbage that’s out there on the radio.
Killer Mike’s collaboration with El-P is music that matters. Their latest release, RTJ2, is hard hitting and even more poignant today than it was it yesterday. Their song “Early” (a track about police brutality)? It couldn’t be more appropriate given the times.”