In 2011, Wouter “Wally” De Backer, best known as Gotye, blindsided music lovers both here in the States and internationally with his universally relatable single, “Somebody That I Used To Know,” off his recently released album Making Mirrors. He’s sent musical shock waves worldwide and this week embarked on a completely sold-out tour, with LA’s El Rey Theatre running out of tickets after only five minutes. This Belgian-Australian artist is well on his way to conquering our country, and LA Music Blog was on site to catch his United States television debut on the Jimmy Kimmel live outdoor stage on February 1st.
Gotye, backed by a four-piece band, kicked off the performance with his debut single off Making Mirrors, “Eyes Wide Open.” A slide guitar and lively drums drew the crowd in as De Backer sang his uniquely controlled, soft, Peter Gabrielle-esque vocals. A rail-thin man with his button-up neatly tucked in, De Backer played a second set of drums during choruses to drive home the epic beats. He effortlessly switched from ear strainingly quiet to sadly wailing vocals, breathing life into his haunting songs. He paid attention to every instrumental detail while his guitarists wildly shook tambourines and clapped along.
As the now-familiar guitar plucks of “Somebody That I Used To Know” rang out, the crowd perked up with excitement. This song proved Gotye’s talent for telling intensely personal stories in a simple language that resonate with music fans across the world. He won the audience over from the first note, earning cheers during the brief instrumental breaks. Waiting in the wings was Kimbra, who sauntered onstage for her verse. The New Zealand singer flew from Australia solely for this performance and was dressed in an outfit straight from Katy Perry’s closet. Her addition of female vocals in the most tragic break-up song in years was unparallelled, and as the two wailed “Somebody!” fans were enthralled.
After the recorded performances were finished, De Backer said, “I guess the stage is ours now, huh?” and began “Heart’s A Mess” off his last album, Like Drawing Blood. He wailed,”Your heart’s a mess, you won’t admit to it,” over pinging synthesizers, and the crowd swayed, appreciating every note.
“We are gonna end things in a weird way, but you guys in LA like weird, right?” De Backer asked before launching into the brilliant, reggae-influenced track “State of The Art,” an ode to his electronic organ. His voice was modulated octaves lower and strings, synthesizers, and harmonized vocals layered over each other to create what Gotye does best: songs with full, imaginative arrangements, heart-wrenching lyrics, and complex rhythms. De Backer looped his voice via prerecorded tracks as “state of the art” repeated over the pulsating bass. Check out the film clip video below to listen to the grooving melody and autotuned vocals that formed an epic jam session and ended the night on a dizzyingly high note.
If you were lucky enough to get tickets to Gotye’s sold-out performances in the next few weeks, my hat’s off to you. If not, join me as I wait for more Los Angeles tour dates to be announced (according to Gotye’s publicist, he will return in the next few months). Until then, Making Mirrors will be on repeat until I can watch Gotye breathe life into his fully-formed, haunting songs again.
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