photos and text by Brad Roberts
There's a whole lot of dancing going on. What's up?! Dance grooves are invading the indie scene and infecting the head-bobbing crowd. De Lux (at right) is fortuitously at the center of this 'seriously indie meets post-disco' sound that I keep running into all over the place. This show celebrated the release on Apr. 8 of their first full-length album on the Innovative Leisure label, called Voyage. I felt a little like a proud parent since I have known Sean Guerin for a couple years now as he does the sound for my monthly Feed Your Head shows at Lot 1. And one of the pleasures of our collaboration has been bands we've introduced to each other.
Sean has done sound for Earth Like Planets twice at Lot 1 and he and Brian Cooper struck up a friendship based on mutual admiration. So when Sean got this Album Release Show on April 10th he wanted to bring this performer with him. And I was very excited to see Earth Like Planets perform on the rather larger stage at The Echo to see what this one-man-band could do when opened up.
There was only a small crowd there as it was the first set of the night, and often the opening act gets scant attention from the early arrivals, but that was not the case here. From the very first number, Earth Like Planets (at right) took the audience into his grip and never let go, right through his last song. Witnessing a whole room falling in love with a performer all at the same time is one of those magic moments that confirms all I believe about the power of music, and the sensation was palpable.
Compositions of endlessly creative mixes of elements, combined with the strange, sometimes randomly inexplicable lyrics draw you into a hypnotic spell that is heightened by the insistent Indian raga beat that ultimately induces a semi-conscious dream state. This is the music of Earth Like Planets and it seeps into your skin and gets into your bones. Many in the audience were fairly swooning and some couldn't resist the urge to dance. To say this set was a revelation is putting it mildly.
Brian Cooper (at left) has a supple and strong voice that easily rises over the sometimes cacophonous background sounds of his pre-recorded orchestrations. Lots of jangles and bells and sonic bursts of colorful noise belie the fact that it's just one guy up there with his guitar making all this glorious music. As usual, his projected visuals both bemuse and confuse the listener as one tries to find the connections which are sometimes clear and sometimes contradictory. Each song is a perfect gem and as distinct from each other as the vast and ranging subject matter he covers from an exploration of scientific theory to drug use and anything in between. Be sure to pick up his EP if you can.
In the few short months that De Lux (at right and below) has been around, they have achieved incredible press and notoriety with just a handful of songs and a few concert dates that have grown exponentially in popularity. Mix that in with a good amount of radio play and industry interest and you end up packing a venue like The Echo to the outer walls with hundreds of frantic fans.
This was like shows I've seen here with bands like Fleet Foxes or Beck, so huge was the crowd. I think their days of playing clubs this size are numbered. There must have been a lot of pressure to get this show right. During the first song the sound mix was more appropriate to an arena and was oppressively overpowering, making them sound like a hundred other bands. But fortunately, someone figured it out and brought the levels down allowing De Lux to shine with their unique and distinctive character that is what makes them stand out from the crowd of dance-music bands.
Sean Guerin and Isaac Franco have forged a new genre and describe themselves as a "post-disco dance-punk DIY duo". I leave it to you to figure that out, but if you listen to Voyage, you will get a sense of what a powerful product they have made. There's no way to listen to the album without dancing around your room like a happy idiot. Part disco, part techno-rock, part emo, part new wave/punk, part 80s, the influences just swirl around one another, and all in such an up-tempo, upbeat package.
The lyrics can be deceptively simple, but there's a nice irony and straightforwardness to it. Very matter-of-fact about the trials of growing up and getting out into the world and putting yourself on the line. They raced through a seven song, high energy set like nobody's business and never flagged for a moment. Many of the songs are already familiar enough to have elicited squeals of delight from their audience of early-devotees. "Better At Making Time", "Love Is A Phase" and of course "Moments" were among the crowd favorites.
Can't wait to hear where this band called De Lux goes next.