Solomon Grey, Elderbrook, Marcus Marr, Transviolet At School Night, Monday May 30th 2016
School Night at Bardot had a special secret guest on Monday, Chris Douridas introduced him after the two first bands, and it was English DJ Marcus Marr, who collaborated with Chet Faker on an EP entitled ‘Work’, that Douridas highly recommended to the audience. It was a Memorial day light crowd, the day people go out of town for the extended weekend, so I got very comfortable inside the cozy place, and I even had the luxury to sit down on one of their sofas while watching the bands.
The night started with another UK band, Solomon Grey, a duo (consisting of composers Tom Kingston & Joe Wilson) which became my favorite crush of the evening without any doubt. It’s not the first time we hear a guy singing in falsetto, Bon Iver comes to mind, but there was something absolutely celestial about their combination of multi-level sprawling synth, and angelic falsetto going to some really impressive highs. The music, although driving into powerful melancholia, was also uplifting, sounding like a blend of church hymns and 80’s Vangelis-type synth. There were sad hooky melodies, desolated pianos mixed with electronics, but their cinematic sound could grow very big into a swelling organ while the falsetto could reach the aching beauty of Perfume Genius’ highs. On Saturday night, they had opened for Above & Beyond at the Hollywood bowl, their biggest show ever, but they told us they were much more appreciating the attention they were getting here at Bardot
It was definitively an English electronica night, with the next act, Elderbrook, one-man band from London, getting beats and humming voices from his small electronic table. His music was first quite stripped down, minimalist and him singing almost a cappella in front of these ambient beats and omms, then the sound got fuller with an occasional guitar and deep penetrating vibrations. He told us about his new EP ‘Travel Slow’, before injecting dance beats and freak-out jungle noises and morphing into an agitated dance floor.
I can’t say I am a DJ person, I get easily bored when watching them turning knobs and sampling CDs, but people loved watching Marcus Marr doing his thing. The result was rather funky, getting into voice distortion and repetition, and I must say his playful and fun set had some excellent vintage grooves,… did he sample Chic? I don’t know but he could have. His collaboration with Chet Faker, and in particular this song, ‘The Trouble With Us’, received more than 3 millions of views on Youtube, so he must be doing something very right.
Transviolet was the only LA band of the night, and they did contrast with the electronica ambiance, taking the stage like a storm with their electro power-pop and soaring choruses. The quartet was fronted by a fearless blonde singer, Sarah McTaggart, and her piercing voice was as sweet as it was intense. If I could pick here and there a few hip hop and electronica inspirations, they were essentially very poppy with a great sense of catharsis and drama. Their energy was explosive and their restless and cute singer was bringing a lot of life in their pop anthems-to-be, this girl was definitively on a mission. They were the Guardian’s new band of the week at the beginning of this year, and the author even mentioned Bowie – ‘They don’t remotely sound like him, but it’s in that very gesture of defiance that we feel we are paying homage to the man.’ I certainly didn’t get a Bowie vibe during their set, but there was a lot of that rebel-rebel let’s-take-over-the-world in their lyrics. They will be playing at the Governors Ball in a few days and you should check them out there!