While Gotye’s ubiquitous hit “Somebody That I Used To Know” has made him something of a big deal in the pop world, I’ve largely avoided digging any deeper into his catalogue. It’s not that I actively dislike him or anything, I think the guy’s alright. I’ve just never bothered to invetigate any further than that one song. While he makes music that’s popular enough to merit an interpretation by the cast of Glee, he still manages to keep his stuff fairly interesting and sophisticated sonically. More importantly, he has great taste in opening acts.
Sure, I was mildly curious to see what Wouter De Backer and band were capable of onstage, but the real draw for me this evening was Brooklyn based synthpop act Chairlift. After discovering the band at SXSW this past March (Yes, I managed to more or less miss out on their ipod commercial song, or at least it only really registed with me on a subliminal level), I had become somewhat charmed by the band, with their latest album Something fast becoming one of my favourites of 2012. Singer Caroline Polachek is an engaging frontwoman and I’ve become kind of obsessed with her dance moves. While playing in the cavernous Molson Amphitheatre to a slightly thin crowd didn’t especially do them any favours, the band sounded great as usual and most likely won over some fans that night. While I preferred seeing them in the more intimate setting of The Horseshoe last time they were in town, this was still pretty satisfying. On a side note, with Polachek’s recent white strip dyed into her hair, I enjoyed watching the band and imagining it was Rogue from the X-Men up there singing. Oh, and on a further side note, their keyboard player was wearing a Mayhem shirt! A band that not only has great songs but also reminds me of comic books and black metal? Thank you, Chairlift.
So onto the headliner. As I mentioned, I was only minimally aware of Gotye’s output and like others, was only made aware of him at all after Walk Off The Earth (who also happened to be playing Toronto tonight) famously covered “Somebody That I Used To Know.” Since I like to pretend I’m above things like viral videos, I kind of paid the song no mind. I also sort of resented the song because when I first saw the title, I thought it was an Elliott Smith cover instead, which is silly, I know, but it coloured my opinion nonetheless. That song was, of course, played on this occasion with Polachek guesting on vocals. It was of course a big crowd pleaser. Going into this thing as a bit of a skeptic, but with an open mind, I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the other songs he played were quite enjoyable and maybe even better than the hit. While I went into this not even sure if I’d stick around for much of his set, I came to appreciate De Backer’s songcraft. He’s a pretty decent drummer too. While the sight of a singer who sometimes drums (often while the whole band also drums at the same time) has begun to seem a bit played out to me, I didn’t mind so much when he did it. Probably in part because he had a full-on second drum kit onstage, which he often played while singing, making him more of a drummer who sings than a singer who sometimes drums, and putting him more in line with Phil Collins, Don Henley, and, um, the guy from Exciter I guess. And maybe Dennis Wilson too, although he wasn’t really much of a drummer from what I’ve heard. Also impressive were the visuals that accompanied much of the band’s performance. Lots of amazing animation was shown onscreen and was quite effective in enhancing what was happening onstage. If these haven’t already been released somewhere they probably should be, as they were in many ways the highlight of the show. Sure, I suspect Gotye may go down in the history books as a “one hit wonder,” but he’ll probably be the type that has defenders passionate enough to get upset when others refer to him as such.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, another fun video from Chairlift. In Japanese!