The downtempo R&B stylings of Rhye were something of an enigma back in the early 2010’s, releasing singles of androgynous vocals and soulful chill with underground raves before finally releasing a full-length LP in 2013 in the form of Woman. With the exception of touring in the following year, Rhye has been fairly quiet – that is, until this year, when the band resurfaced with a similar release strategy that once again began the hype machine of high anticipation, leaning on superb singles that hinted at a brighter energy and expanded scope.

While information of a new full-length follow-up is pending, Rhye will be back on the road with a formally announced tour heading into 2018. In the meantime, though, the LA-based band made a sold-out stop to test new material and perform older songs at the Moroccan Lounge, which is rapidly making the case for becoming LA’s best venue for intimate settings, devoted crowds, and outstanding acoustics.

All photos by David Fisch

The Moroccan Lounge’s small stage fit what looked like a cramped set-up for the band, whose beginninsg as a duo have morphed into a full-fledged band of multiple collaborators and musicians. They took advantage of it in every respect, setting the vibes with a neon-lit sign and palm leaves and featuring electric violin and cello/trombone and a full-sized synthesizer. Vocalist Mike Milosh was mostly center, but from time to time he would perform on a drum and play with electronics and readily interact with the audience for a dynamic-filled 70 minutes.

Part, if not most of, the appeal of Rhye lies in Milosh’s vocals, who not only has an incredible voice, but who also utilizes it in a rather incredible way. In songs like “The Fall” or “Open,” he works the microphone to and from his mouth for volume rather than relying on his own voice to alter it, allowing him to exert the same energy throughout each song and giving him the freedom to emit emotion in a physical way in a live setting. With the Moroccan Lounge’s stellar sound set-up, this gave the feeling that Milosh was giving into his live performance what he would in the studio, which was fascinating to watch.

The musicianship on stage was clearly felt, and there was this notion on everyone’s faces and cues that they were calm and collected in delivering a passionate array of diffused color. Milosh noted the set as being somewhat of a rollercoaster, in that with every downtempo song came a high-energy and rather jammy, funky one, which helped keep things interesting. Most of this grander-sounding material is being considered for inclusion on the new record, with track titles like “Count to 5” and “Stay Safe,” and if it was any indication, they are going to only be even more elevated on record than they were performed live.

It was exciting to witness the band in a groove with new tracks that are on their way to being favorites into next year. The Moroccan Lounge has nailed getting acts that tend to feed off of intimate settings and audiences, and with the fantastic acoustics and the kind of instrumentation and musicianship the band brought with it to the stage, seeing Rhye there was an outstanding time.

Rhye will be back in Los Angeles at The Orpheum on March 17th, 2018. You can purchase tickets here. Listen to the latest single “Taste” below.

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