This Son Lux article was written by Jen Taylor, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson
Son Lux has a reputation that precedes him; he’s a live act that everyone must see. So it wasn’t surprising when a large and enthusiastic crowd turned up at Village Underground to see what all the hype is about.
There aren’t words to describe the first act of the night: Olga Bell. Knowing she is friends with the headline act goes some way to explaining why she was on the bill, as does her strong voice and interesting electronic music. But her need to be different seemingly just for the sake of it makes for a rather strange experience. It was difficult to tell who she was focussing on as she stared deeply at various audience members, with her contrived performance containing specifically placed laughs and strange comments which she attempted to use as part of her music.
Barbarossa took the stage next. Their songs were simple and repetitive, but contained some interesting vocal effects and electronic drums. Their live show was somewhat reminiscent of a group of high school geeks playing in their bedroom; they didn’t really seem to be playing for anyone but themselves. While not the most inspiring performance, their music was nice to listen to, and people were nodding their heads along accordingly.
A half hour wait between the second act and the headline had people shuffling, getting impatient and contemplating life. Sometimes in the midst of the smoke that fills Village Underground, the lights give the effect of sun through rafters; or perhaps floorboards – more fitting considering the name of the venue.
Finally, to the sound of a dull hum and the atmosphere of a stage shrouded in smoke, the silhouettes of Son Lux emerged (Ryan Lott joined by Ian Chang on drums and Rafiq Bhatia on guitar) and wrapped the audience up in a whirlwind of attitude and emotion that was impressive and engaging.
The set was punctuated with moments of complete silence, which sometimes left the audience wondering whether they should be staring in stunned silence or applauding, and conversely loud, perfectly placed moments of noise and blaring chords. Lead singer, and the man behind the whole operation, Ryan Lott, is the perfect mix of intense and energetic. From his vantage point behind his keyboard which was orientated on an angle so everyone could see what he was playing, he gazed out on the crowd, seemingly surveying his audience.
‘Now I Want’ filled the room with its primal riff-based backing, and spiralled into a gospel church-like sing-along, with the whole audience clapping and singing acapella to the lyrics “Now I want to be free”. As Lott stood up the front conducting everyone, it was almost as if we had somehow been conned into joining a cult.
The show was arranged and executed expertly. The sound levels were perfect from start to finish, and not one intended moment fell short of its mark; everything was in its right carefully deliberated place and intended to add something to the overall sound. Though not for a moment did it sound contrived or unnatural, just very professional.
To describe a live performance as an experience is almost as annoying as throwing about the phrase concept album to describe any that has a theme, however if the descriptor was ever necessary, this is where it belongs.
For the last two songs of the set and the encore, Olga Bell returned to the stage, standing at the back and using her amazing voice to provide backing vocals. The final few songs of the set featured cowbells and a poignant reprise of earlier song ‘Change is Everything’. Following a touching speech by a gracious Lott about how we have all become like a family due to the music bringing us together, he proceeded to sing the song ‘You Don’t Know Me’, which then made everyone wonder how true the bond really is…
There is no way to prepare yourself for how Son Lux’s recorded music relates in a live setting, but it is something that really needs to be experienced at some point.
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