February 3, 2012 | 7:20am
El Rey Theater
February 2, 2012
Every so often, a single comes along that sweeps across the Earth like some unstoppable force. A song that's so sticky, you couldn't separate yourself from it if you tried. Last year, that song was unarguably Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks." Now that the calendar has turned its page to 2012, it seems we can already crown a winner for biggest radio hit of the year.
(pronounced "go-tea-yay") "Somebody That I Used to Know" is literally a universal presence these days. Listeners feed off of the track, like a drug addiction with an unwavering stranglehold on your aural stimulus. The combination of it's relatable lyrical content and the music's seduction makes it accessible for anyone who has a sensitive side, even transforming the ultimate brute into a softy.
Last night in Hollywood, roughly 1,200 curious concertgoers migrated to the El Rey Theater to experience the biggest show in town. I can only imagine I was one of many in attendance who was curious to observe the audience's behavior. Would they be well-informed of the artist's work? Were they there just to get their fix of "Somebody That I Used to Know" and immediately vanish like a pack of apparitions? Or would the audience stay attentive and absorbed throughout the duration of the performance? The answers may surprise you.
By 10:15pm, the El Rey Theater was filled to the brim with an eclectic mix of individuals all ages and ethnicities, resembling a modestly attractive melting pot of men and women. I spotted hipsters, mods, casuals, elders, and all hybrids in between. There clearly was no majority or minority here, just fans.
Answering the buzz of the eager crowd, Gotye (Wouter "Wally" De Backer) entered the stage to a massive reception. I imagine for a man who hails from a place very far away, at that moment, he felt right at home. Alongside four other band mates, Gotye kicked things off with "Eyes Wide Open," another song that has received moderate airplay. Complimenting Gotye's powerfully crisp vocals, the locomotive-like drumming of the track set the pace for a very rhythmic and engaging atmosphere. It was clear from the beginning this show would not depend on the notion of a one-hit-wonder.
"The Only Way," the second song of the evening, was greeted mostly with a response of unfamiliarity. (Most likely because it appears on Gotye's 2006 release Like Drawing Blood.) Would this be the moment where people would being to lose interest? Not really. The exhilarating drum-off which concluded the song left almost everyone catching their breath in awe. The added element of a visual backdrop, consisting of everything from anime to graphics of fuzzy looking creatures resembling green beans was also quite arousing.
After a brief interlude where Gotye expressed his upmost gratitude for those in attendance (which he did several times throughout the evening), the swaggering stomp of "
Highs and Lows" "Smoke and Mirrors" carried the kinetic movement of bodies. The dance party was officially underway at this point, and if you weren't someone who particularly enjoyed swaying to-and-fro, the riptide those around you gave you no choice but to participate.
The reggae groove of "State of the Art" was the first real standout of the set, as the predominate pop influence of Gotye's music transversed into a Jamaican like frenzy complete with a reverberating bass line. At this point, the slight waft of that ubiquitous green stuff made its entrance to the party, and it totally seemed necessary. Gotye utilized pitch-shifting technology to deepen his voice to a level that resembles one in slow-motion, and I'm not gonna lie it kind of gave me the creeps.
When it was finally time for the big bertha (aka "Somebody That I Used to Know"), we were all wondering if Kimbra would slither from backstage to the forefront. However, she would not. With the explanation that the New Zealand based artist ventured back home after Wednesday's performance on Jimmy Kimmel, the task was on the female audience to make up for her absence. In a truly touching moment, every girl/woman sang at the top of their lungs covering Kimbra's verse. I'd imagine it was a dream come true for many, whom for at least a moment played the special guest to an international hit single.
The remainder of the performance carried the momentum from which it began with. There would be no streaming for the exits after "Somebody That I Used to Know," in fact the sincere enjoyment and enthusiasm in the crowd was unrelenting. Gotye had earned our respect with his ability to project his cordial exuberance into our hearts. Comparing him to a magician who's famous for one great trick, Gotye proved he's much more than that by interacting with his audience, and showcasing masterful versatility.
Even if Gotye fades after the storm of his gigantic hit single, anyone who witnesses him in a live setting will carry the memory for quite some time.
I officially became an avid body painter after watching the video for "Somebody I Used to Know." People smell more than you think.
Everyone from your grandpa to your little sister.
Overheard in the Crowd:
"I'm from New Zealand!" -Proclaimed the most American sounding female voice after Gotye asked for volunteers to accompany him in Kimbra's absence.