The music of Hundred Waters is hard to pin down. It’s at one point art rock, with breathtakingly organic instrumentation and unusual structures, and then electronic at another, rhythmically tying together moments of repetition and manipulative effects. They make music that doesn’t fit neatly in any category, which that’s perfectly fine with me. It’s their unique blend that makes them devilishly attractive, and that which you would think might translate into an equally unique live experience when they perform.

You would be right because their performance at El Rey on Friday night was as such: truly unique.

Photos by David Fisch

In support of their new album Communicating and perhaps taking from the lead-off track “Particle,” the band, already on deck with an intimidating large piano, flute, drum kit, and keyboard, performed in front of a motion-enabled, sequin-reflecting backdrop. This, choreographed with their dream-like sound, enabled a projection of lights of all colors to flutter and wave across and over the audience at their command, each sequin trajectory and angle of light different or the same depending on which track was being performed.

Lead vocalist/pianist Nicole Miglis was in pitch perfect form, utilizing her hushed vocals to great effect amongst the clatter of instruments surrounded throughout by the El Rey’s acoustics. Dressed in a broken mirror-clad skin suit adorned with a flowy shawl, she swayed in unison with the music and lights, playing the piano with an air of magic that tracks like “Murmurs” or “Blanket Me” would require and adding even more color to the flurry of ascending and descending scales on tracks like “Boreal” or “Wave To Anchor”.

As the band has been on tour in the previous months, that they debuted this new visual aspect of their performance at this show and got everything right was something special, and it’s exactly how I would want to experience the band live. As they currently have three more U.S. shows this month, I would highly suggest seeing them this way.

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