This past Tuesday
I had another concert cancelled I saw James Blake live for the first time at the Vogue Theater. While it wasn’t a Kanye-like spectacle, it was a performance I won’t forget anytime soon. I’ll go as far to say that Tuesday reminded me how sweet it is to watch a performance in a theater style setting as opposed to a stadium. The concert started with a thirty minute set from Nosaj Thing, who set the perfect atmosphere for a James Blake show. The beats were nuanced and subtle, but they resonated and it felt as if the music was vibrating through your body. Before Tuesday I never listened to anything by Nosaj but as soon as I got back to my apartment I went to his Soundcloud and put it on as background music as I got ready for bed.
After Nosaj’s set I was buzzing. I wasn’t ready for James. I definitely wasn’t ready for the lights which accompanied his show. The lights and smoke shrouded James, but we didn’t need to see him because all we needed was his voice – which was studio quality perfect. It was swoon worthy, seductive, calm, and cool all at once. He controlled the flow of the show from beginning to end. He played around with loops for his instrumentals, as well as his voice, so at some points of the show his singing would overlap, which gave the show a sonic quality.
One portion of the show I will never forget is when James knew that he had the audience in the palm of his hand. The crowd was hanging onto every word he sang and was swaying. He finished the song and took a swig of water before telling us, “I’m just going to keep you here in this state for now.” The music started again and I’m sure knees and hearts crumbled. Even if you couldn’t see his face, you knew he loved it.
The only moment which topped it was his encore. It took the crowd approximately .00000005 seconds for us to start chanting for one and he came out and confessed “that was quicker than expected.” He came out without his band and explained to us that for his encore he was going to play a song he’s never played in Vancouver and that we needed silence for it work. Naturally, the first note he belts out is met with shrieks and screams. He stops and says to us, “hey, I’m not in a rush to be anywhere.” He starts again and gets into the song for about a minute before he’s interrupted again by a scream. He brushes it off again and jokes, “I guess this is what happens when I play in a country that doesn’t speak English.” Finally, he finishes his loop and lets it ride while he plays his keys. As this is happening his back lights begin to dim as well as the spotlight on him until it’s just his voice on loop. He gets up from his seat and takes a bow in the dark and walks off. With his looped voice still singing. It was incredible, he left us with a silhouette of his voice. It still feels like it’s vibrating in my soul.
This entire week I’ve had James Blake on repeat. I’ve become re-obsessed, which isn’t a bad thing and good to know I’m not the only one. One of my new indie music crushes (really I get one a week, it’s becoming a problem) Dominique Star aka Star and the Sea saw him two weeks ago and put out a cover of his song “Retrograde.” I’ve watched it too many times this week and I’m okay with this fact.
It’s Like I Have ESPN or Something – Nicole
We are quickly turning into a hipster music blog.
Garth, rescue us.
PS. 1999 was so 1999.