The disco-house music was pumping, that much was certain. But the stage was empty… where the hell was Kid Color? For the first time I’ve ever seen, Lincoln Hall had someone performing up in the balcony, while music played to the audience downstairs who seemed oblivious. Which was a shame: Kid Color played a silky smooth set that would have had booties bumpin in Smartbar. He’s quickly becoming one of Chicago’s best and hottest DJs, so it would have been nice to see him front and center on stage. Oh well, it sounded great and got the night started off right.
The question was this… how would Poolside‘s live performance stack up? They were fresh off the release of their critically acclaimed debut album Pacific Standard Time, which is in the lead for album of the year in the Soundfuse office. Expectations were high and the word on the street was that their live show didn’t quite cut the mustard that their album established. Well, I’m here to tell you that the word on the street was wrong. Their live show was surprisingly complex, with a four piece band and enough instrumentation to make you say, “wait… this is electronic music?”
While listening to the album, it’s extremely difficult to tell which sounds were sampled, and which were recorded live. From the looks of their live show, nearly everything on that album was recorded on live instruments. Sure, there was a produced track underlying all the songs, but all of the sick basslines, crispy drumming, weird synth riffs, and sultry, high-pitched vocals were performed as live as anything can be. The only thing missing was a guitarist to play all those shimmering parts live, but alas, those were triggered as looped samples.
They played an hour of material from PST, running through all of the good stuff except for “Golden Hour.” “Kiss You Forever,” naturally, was a stand out; it was shocking how well Jeffrey Paradise sang those rarified vocal parts without the aid of any type of distortion or effects. I was curious whether they would utilize segues to slide between tracks, to reinforce the mellifluous, electronic side of their music. And did they ever. There was a couple of gorgeous, perfectly executed segues, the finest of which flowed from “Why You Wanna” into “Harvest Moon” — a nice little slice of the album.
The show began with the first actual song from the album “Next To You,” so it was fitting that they ended with “Take Me Home,” a quintessentially soothing album ‘outro’ tune. This show confirmed the genius of Poolside and completely validated their ability to translate their studio music to the live setting. I can’t wait until these guys start breaking away from the album structure and experimenting with different arrangements, segues, and improvisation. Actually, I can’t wait to see them again period. Poolside is too legit.