“I can’t. I just can’t.” These were the words of a woman hyperventilating next to me throughout the set of UK producer Sohn. I get it — he has a certain mystique that pervades both his looks and his music, and when his croon escapes his trachea, you pretty much want to drop everything you’re doing and run to him to see if he’s the real deal. I admit, the man is magnetic, to say the very least, which is why I was never annoyed by this woman’s overdose. Besides, it seemed to be mirrored by the rest of the audience at The Troubadour last Tuesday night, and appropriately so.
The wonderfully poppy and immediate “Artifice” was my first exposure to Sohn, but I knew he had been around the block before, working with artists like Banks and remixing Lana Del Rey. His electronic applications to those artists’ pop sensibilities proved fruitful enough that he was signed to 4AD and released a solo album earlier this year. This is all with good cause because Tremors is indeed a great showcase for an artist whose fresh-faced collection of colorful yet sorrowful tales glimmers with electronic ideas that are bound to be perfected down the road.
Sohn came to the famed Troubadour on Santa Monica Blvd. Tuesday night as the final stop on his US tour and conjured up a pretty great performance. I managed to snag a sweet spot in the dead center of the venue, which I think helped to both take in the rich quality of the sound and to witness the symmetry created by Sohn’s lighting setup. Plugs abounded the entire stage, going in and out of fluorescent lightbulbs and electronic interfaces, and while I couldn’t really tell how all of it worked, the band pulled off interesting lighting sequences for each track that had my eyes as equally mesmerized as Sohn’s aural pleasures had my ears.
A lot of Sohn’s music focuses on mood and lyrical reflection in similar fashion to The XX, which marks the electronics with much more introspective and subdued accents. It also made up a good two-thirds of his set, in which Sohn performed tracks like “Ransom Notes,” “Tremors,” and “Veto,” the final of which showcased both his stage presence and crooner abilities. Even for all the thumping bass, shimmery synths, and strobing color of light that made up the beats, melodies, and moods of these tracks (respectively), they retained a swaying quality that was undeniably attractive.
It wasn’t really until the performance of “Lights” that Sohn even brought up the idea to the LA audience that they should “start moving.” That he could call the action and then have everyone follow suit represented the power Sohn had on that stage, enough that, in a rare occurrence, the crowd actually yelled “Encore!” after his set ended, even though it’s now common knowledge that bands will usually come out again to perform encores. I was happy to hear “Artifice” as part of his two-track encore, and the live translation bested the studio version just slightly.
While this might have been his last scheduled stop in the US, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back here soon. In fact, based purely on the quality of the sound, his magnetism, and the interesting light show that accompanied the set, I can almost guarantee he’ll be back, and probably on everyone’s radar as opposed to just that of the audience that attended the Troubadour show. I also hope that woman made it home safely.
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