Success must feel bittersweet for Wouter De Backer. Many only know him by his stage name, Gotye, and even more know him for his hit single, “Somebody That I Used To Know.” But there's so much more to the Belgian-Australian multi-instrumentalist, and last night, he proved this to his crowd at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.
Backed by a full band, the performance was a spectacle. Each song was accompanied by intricate projections ranging from cartoonish animations to out-of-focus video of city lights at night as De Backer and his group strummed and pounded their instruments until it looked like their hands may fall off. During the 18-song set, the singer never lost his energy as he jumped behind a second drum kit or blew into a melodica. This love for musical equipment is one of the many aspects that makes De Backer so interesting.
“This is a peculiar song about a peculiar instrument,” De Backer said to
the crowd before beginning “State of the Art.” “Sometimes it sounds
like this,” he continued, pressing some keys on his Lowrey Cotillion
Model D-575 electronic organ, “and sometimes it sounds like this,” he
said, distorting his voice through the same machine. Like many songs on
Gotye's 2011 release, Making Mirrors, this is a complex tune that
involves precise timing and tinkering with electronics, and though all
of these sounds were created in a live setting, the band executed them
flawlessly, recreating the song as good as, if not better than, its
recorded counterpart. During the slow-paced “Giving Me A Chance,” De
Backer introduced his fans to another instrument, the omnichord, and
joked about it being out of tune. “We may need to turn the levels down
on that,” he said with a laugh before delving into the ballad.
His modesty was amazing. Although “Somebody That I Used To
Know,” is the biggest song of the past year, he performed like nobody
knew who he was, chatting with the audience and introducing most songs
by title. But we were all waiting for that song, and he knew it. He did
not play it last, but rather placed it as the second-to-last song before
the encore. “I'm going to need your help on this one,” he said. “It's
an integral part,” and though we were all anticipating an appearance
from Kimbra, she did not appear, and instead the whole audience
sang her part. It was shockingly beautiful. He ended his set with
“Hearts A Mess,” off his 2006 sophomore effort, Like Drawing Blood,
and chose another selection from the record (“Learnalilgivinanlovin”)
as the last song of the night, where he pounded that drum kit to shreds
and showed the crowd that he has so much more to offer than one catchy
Critical Bias: Gotye is a damn good musician and performer. He should be known for that instead of one single.
The Crowd: Middle-aged men and women; teenager girls, and families
Overheard In The Crowd: “I hope he plays that one song over and over.”
Random Notebook Dump: A good amount of people left after “Somebody That I Used To Know,” and missed four songs. This was infuriating.