Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Live: Youth Lagoon/Majical Cloudz @ The Mohawk 4/24/13
The Youth Lagoon/Majical Cloudz show was a testament to the power of intimacy. The different forms it can take, and how one artist can use it in the grandest sense, while another can channel it in its most reduced form. Youth Lagoon and Majical Cloudz operate on opposite sides of the spectrum with their music, so it was a bit of a surprise how well their sets worked together. Their sounds complemented one another in the oddest ways, the straight faced honesty of Majical Cloudz's electronica serving an adequate contrast to Youth Lagoon's blooming neo-psychedlia. All those difference, though lead to a deeply, deeply spellbinding night.
Looking back on it, Majical Cloudz's set should not have worked as well as it did. Majical Cloudz live is just Matthew Otto recreating the band's atmospheric beats with a small amount of electronics, while Devon Welsh sings into a microphone. There are no flourishes to what either of them were doing; it was a completely minimal set up to match their completely minimal music, in a completely outdoor venue. And yet together they pulled off a completely memorizing set, possibly one that was even greater than Youth Lagoon's. Majical Cloudz have this incredible ability to pluck atmosphere and intensity out of thin air and broadcast it out to everyone in attendance, forcing everyone to hush themselves and pay attention. A hush fell over the crowd as Majical Cloudz performed, so much so that by the time "Childhood's End" just three songs in, there was a near silence through out. Just quiet, powerful electronica that echoed in the chest.
At the very least, Youth Lagoon's set Wednesday night showed how much the band has improved with their live performance. Wondrous Bughouse's opening cut "Through Mind and Back" poured out the speakers before anyone was on stage, while tempered neon lighting started going off, both of which set the tone for the night. Right on cue everyone came on stage, and Trevor Power and Co. blasted into "Mute", capturing every musical shade and bleep on stage that they had crafted on record. This was in large part thanks to the full band configuration, which was able to do so much more in comparison to when I saw Youth Lagoon perform as beat-triggering duo more than a year ago. There was little communication with the crowd, with Youth Lagoon instead crafting a set that was made in every sense for the audience to lose themselves in.
At times it was almost too much, with the heavy, pure instrumental sections of Wondrous Bughouse's songs becoming much more pronounced on stage then on record. However, the monetary punctuations of choice cuts from The Year of Hibernation, reworked perfectly as to not lose their intimacy but still work within the set, gave the show life just when it needed it. There was something truly special when the crowd started not only moving, but singing along to the entirety of "17". The length of the new songs made the set fly by, letting them only perform what felt like 10 songs during their 50 minute set. However, when they stepped back on stage for the encore, they elevated the set. They closed with "July", possibly the most intimate song within their discography, and more than likely the first taste anyone had with Youth Lagoon, and turned it into a reverb smothered anthem, one that rang and chimed and eventually drifted into the night.