How To Dress Well | The Roxy | 3/18/14

 

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The first time I saw Tom Krell p/k/a “How To Dress Well” perform live, I thought to myself, “I really need to see him perform in an intimate club venue.” On March 18th, at The Roxy Theatre, I got my chance.

What intially hooked me to How To Dress Well’s music was twofold. First, the music leaned dark, simple and atmospheric; the kind of music you could press play on a rainy day, lie on a couch and let it sooth you to sleep. Second, I was very partial to Tom’s tender and vulnerable vocals stylings. A lot of male singers can use their falsetto, but not all male singers can use it the way Tom does.

Before the set started, I scanned the room to see what kind of audience was in attendance. I didn’t have to ask. By the looks of it, I may have been the oldest one in the room. I was a bit impressed insofar as the music that’s been released thus far is quite mature (both lyrically and musically). I asked the two fresh faced kids standing to the right of me (who weren’t wearing drinking bracelets) how they got into How To Dress Well’s music, and they said Spotify. I asked the young girl standing to my right the same question. She said Spotify.  A quick non-sequitor … even if major recording artists are complaining about the amount they get paid from streaming services like Spotify, it would appear that Spotify led at least 3 kids to spend their extra cash to buy a ticket to see an act like How To Dress Well perform at a Hollywood club on a Tuesday night. Just saying …

The music of the evening was stellar. I knew that Tom was in the process of recording new material, but I wasn’t expecting that he’d be showcasing a lot of the new songs at the gig. It was truly a pleasant surprise for me. He had the drummer from Broken Social Scene play with him (he used a drum machine at FYF Festival) and that added a new life to the music’s live effect. I was again impressed with the way he used his two-mic set up (one mic without reverb and one mic with) to give his songs layers of depth and feeling.

And I was right about wanting to see him perform in an intimate venue. The concert-going experience was magnified 10 fold for me. For How To Dress Well’s music, you want to be captivated. You want to focus on the emotion that Tom is purging from his body and hang on very word/note. Being in an intimate venue afforded Tom the ability to interact and really connect with the audience.  When introducing songs, I really got the sense that Tom wanted the audience to connect with its meaning, and it’s a lot easier to do so when the audience is captivated rather than tent-hopping at a festival. When I say intimate, I don’t necessarily mean a small club venue. In fact, if could pick another venue for Tom to perform in, I’d love to see him perform at The Orpheum.

I didn’t quite catch the names of all of the new songs (some of them were still untitled) but I did my best to list them below, together with little concert notes that I took.

  1. “Two Years” (?): A song about his father
  2. “The Power” (?)
  3. “What You Wanted” (?): A song about how you feel when you have a desire that you can’t control
  4. “Cold Nites”: After he sang this song, he told that audience that he got shivers while he was singing it stating, “That felt really good”
  5. “If You Were My Girl” (?): A dance song
  6. “No More Death” (?): He asked for the venue to turn the lights down since it was a “really dark song”
  7. “I Don’t Know What’s Best For Me” (?)
  8. “Suicide Dream 1”: A song about a friend
  9. “Childhood Faith in Love” (?): Inspired by “You Can Have The Best Of Me” by the Starting Line
  10. “Repeat Pleasure”: A song about controlling emotions even though you know that “if you do something once, you’ll probably do it again”, Tom suggested that this was perhaps the most “poppy” songs he’s written and that it was going to be a big hit
  11. “Words I Don’t Remember” (?)
  12. “Set It Right”

Encore

  1. “Baby” (?): Tom mentioned that in the next part of his life, he wants a baby, but that this song is his fear of the fragility of babies, derived from a fear of wondering if a baby is alive while its sleeping (A cappella)
  2. “Lovers Start” (A cappella)

 

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos. If the slide show below isn’t working, then Flickr has disabled their embed option for WordPress and hasn’t yet updated their HTML code, which totally BLOWS! If you can see the slide show below, hooray!

 

Forest Swords | The Roxy | 3/18/14

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Opening for How To Dress Well at the Roxy was a music producer from Liverpool, England named Matthew Barnes, know by his stage name, Forest Swords. I hadn’t put two and two together before, but as it turns out he produced How To Dress Well’s 2012 single “Cold Nites”. In digging up a little history of his discography, I discovered that his 2010, debut EP “Dagger Paths” received rave reviews across the board; named FACT Magazine’s #1 album of the year, given 8.4 rating on Pitchfork and called “one of 2010’s finest underground records” by NME. Critics have even compared his musical stylings to current stand-out recording artists like James Blake and Bon Iver. If that isn’t high praise, I don’t know what is.

If you are at all interested in music by Portishead or Massive Attack, you need to hit up his Soundcloud account to get a taste of what he’s all about.  I’ve embedded his track “Miarches” below for you to check out:

Backed only by a bass player, he performed a set of dark, brooding, atmospheric instrumental creations that had the audience mesmerized, caught in a hypnotic dreamscape. I realized that I was hooked to his music as I caught myself humming made-up melodies to his instrumentals. I immediately started wondering why I haven’t heard more of his production for other recording artists.

After the evening’s music ended, I made my way to the merchandise booth to purchase some music. Matthew was there shopping his wares and I made some small talk with him asking him whether he’s produced for others. He indicated that he had taken a break from music for a spell and was just focusing on his own projects for the moment. If I were a betting man, I’d put a few dollars on that changing sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos. If the slide show below isn’t working, then Flickr has disabled their embed option for WordPress and hasn’t yet updated their HTML code, which totally BLOWS! If you can see the slide show below, hooray!