Concert Review // Gotye // Miami 10/07/12
The Systematic Conspiracy of Gotye.
This past Sunday night, I had the pleasure of seeing Gotye take the stage at the Klipsch Amphitheater in Miami. This was my third time seeing Gotye this year, and all of them have been immensely captivating. With the show being outdoors, the humidity was dense and rude, but the surrounding high rises cradled us in their glimmering glory, and there was plenty of space to move around and find good seats. I was surprised to see that the show was not sold out, as most other shows on his world tour have been at capacity; with so many extras floating around, you could barely GIVE tickets away. This mattered not; the show was still explosive!
The thing I love about a Gotye show is that Wally takes the audience on a musical adventure with him. There is a lot going on in the material, both sonically and visually, which can cause a great deal of introspection beyond the entertainment factor (which I think any human being can benefit from). Each show I’ve been to have had the feeling of a clear beginning, middle, and end, lending credence to the idea that his shows are like a storybook, or an alternate universe, where you can extract whatever lessons or insights you choose.
The show started off with an upbeat version of “The Only Way”, where Tim Shiel kills it on the Theremin, building tons of energy for what’s to come. Beyond the Theremin, the entire Gotye production includes a plethora of awesome instruments: a melodica, slide guitar, synth sax (for the comedy factor), heil talkbox, loads of percush… but wait, there’s more! The band members are constantly moving around stage using different percussion toys and synthy gadgets to mimic each and every sound you hear on the records. This is living proof that Wally is a well-seasoned composer/arranger, and makes sure this notion is transferred to his live show, leaving no stone unturned in the instrumental sense.
The way Wally chooses to perform and present his music forces you to interpret his music differently than when you are listening through speakers. His third song played was “What Do You Want”, on his first record, Boardface. In this downtempo-latin-portisheadesque piece, Wally sings with enticing sensuality, as if verrry sloooowly pulling us in to shore with a lifesaver and rope. “So what do you want? What do you want from us? It’s a matter of trust, that you tell us just what you want from us.” This translates to the literal act of performing – what do WE, as an audience, want from THEM, the performers? It’s a matter of reciprocity that the audience speaks to them through energy – the way we dance, the way we cheer, the vibes we put out to the band… and in return, we trust that they will perpetuate the live music energy cycle. I think it is no coincidence that Wally chooses a setlist the way he does; this is a carefully crafted show to prepare and guide us for what is in store… like a shaman in an Ayahuasca sitting. (The setlists do not vary much, but there is A LOT going on, so it’s almost good to be able to see it more than once and wrap your head around all of it).
As the night continued, each song was paired with a related visual animation projected on a large screen behind the band. The art and production that happens is a crucial aspect to the Gotye live show. It is to my understanding that Wally works with various artists in his community to create videos that are tailor-made for his songs. Watching these videos synchronized to the live music is an EYE-OPENING experience, as they reveal an interpretation of the song you may not have thought of before. His performance of “Easy Way Out” was paired with a video animated and directed by Benjamin Drake and Eddie White. Experiencing this prompts the concertgoer to examine their own life; how all of us are faced with trials, tough decisions, reflecting on oneself, and the lot. In the end, it’s up to us to choose our own path, but I firmly believe Wally promotes the path of positivity.
They also played their 80′s/Police-ish tune “Dig Your Own Hole” with resonating effects. Wally sings, “In the end, you dig yourself the hole you’re in when you don’t know what you want. You just repeat yourself again, in the end, you just repeat yourself again when you don’t know who you are, you dig yourself the hole you’re in.” Hearing this song live has the ability to render self-examination. Who are you? How can you improve yourself? How can you NOT dig yourself into holes? How did you get in that hole? How will you get out? It is in these moments that it is clear Wally is more than just somebody that we used to know, he’s a Deep. Freaking. Genius. In that same vein, check out the visuals shown for “Smoke And Mirrors” (note: this video is not from the Miami show).
Not everything is so serious in his show though, and of course, it’s all how you choose to interpret things as a concertgoer. A more light hearted moment was when they played, “State of the Art”, which (what a shocker!) has an incredible animation attached to it. Here is what you will see at the live show, it is balls deep: Cotillion Cray-ness. This seemed to be a crowd favorite which had everyone grooving deep in the pocket. Other upbeat songs included “The Only Thing I Know”, and his mo-town style feel good songs “I Feel Better”, and “Learnalilgivinanlovin”.
About halfway through they also played “Thanks for Your Time”, where the band joined one another at the front of the stage to perform this. On the record Like Drawing Blood, this song is his take on those ridiculously frustrating tech support calls we have all had to deal with. You know, the “press one if you want to scream; press two if you’d like to pull your hair out; press three if you would like me to spontaneously combust and put you on with a REAL PERSON”… those calls. Anyway, seeing it live changes the meaning completely in that THEY are thanking US for coming to their show, and partaking in their scrumptious showmanship. This was the clear middle of the show, giving us more juice to go on with them as one body of energy. It kept the audience in the palm of their hands, enabling them to drive more messages through to the people watching.
Gotye is a dynamic, multitalented artist with a vision far beyond his hackneyed smash hit “Somebody That I Used To Know”. He has time and again proven himself to create astonishing works of music, spanning multiple genres and emotions. Beyond his far reaching ability to master the creation, sampling, and arranging of music, he is a RIDICULOUSLY STELLAR drummer. Like, the dude has CHOPS. When he took on a drum solo during the show, all I could think was “Daaang I’d just love to see these guys wreck a version of Sussudio, Cinema Show and/or The Brazilian!” (If anyone should cover Genesis, that honor goes to Gotye). He has chosen members of his band carefully, each of them with a verve that is explosive on stage, soooo…. Big ups dudes!
In closing, a Gotye show is enough of an experience to write a whole conspiracy theory. The Systematic Conspiracy of Gotye: GOT YA! I know it sounds silly, but there is so much going on with the visuals, lyrics, and performance, that theories of conspiracy and subliminal messaging do not seem so crazy to me! (“Easy Way Out” is a great example). At the end of the show, they played “Don’t Worry, We’ll Be Watching You”, which was the clear “closing” of the storybook adventure… Wally sings, “Do you need a reminder of the love that we gave you? Don’t worry, you’re walking away, but we’ll always be watching you.” Umm, what? Whoa. Maybe Wally is trying to gain universal mind control (having used “Somebody That I Used to Know” as the hypnotizing syringe) so we can all be better human beings, in the way we consume, create, destruct, share; in the way we just LIVE OUR LIVES. Wally perpetuates positive messages all around, presents them in a cohesive, intuitive manner, while utilizing his community in art & music for further construction of his production. Props.
At the center of my swirling sea of thoughts is this: I know that when I am at a Gotye show, he has me in the palm of his hand, as well as the crux of my own being.