Sunday, June 15, 2014

LIVE FROM NEW YORK: La Roux Rocks Hipster Williamsburg

There's a reason why locals call Williamsburg the Capital of All Things Hipster. I finally figured that out on Wednesday night when I ventured in the north side of the City where I currently reside (Brooklyn...keep up) via the frigid but thankfully ventilated L Train (so much flannel, you guys) to see an artist I've been a fan of just about as long as this blog as been alive -- the UK's own La Roux.

Midnight Magic @ Music Hall - Williamsburg
It was my first time at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, yet another venue operative of 'The Bowery Presents' (who also directs my fave spots in the Mercury Lounge, Bowery Ballroom, Webster Hall, and Terminal 5 among others). It's a mid-level size venue -- much bigger than Mercury Lounge but half the size of Webster Hall. Overall, the sound quality was really fantastic and I found it much easier to hear and enjoy than at Webster Hall. Like many of the other Bowery venues, it has a balcony set-up and also has two raised platforms on either side of the stage if you're short like moi. Somehow however, maybe by the Grace of the Queen Ms. Janet Jackson, we ended up right flesh against stage left. Amazing.

The show began just past 9PM with Midnight Magic, a fantastic surprise support act that we really genuinely enjoyed, jumped on stage. They straddled the line between true funk and electro dance, complete with a full horn section of two trumpets and a trombone. There was also a bongoist (is that a word? It is now.).

But all eyes were clearly on vocalist Tiffany Roth, looking pin-up gal gorgeous in a black sequined cocktail dress with a thick belt and shoulder pads. She was a bit like a cartoon, emoting and belting and getting the crowd proper warmed up. (At one point, a drunk heckler tried to yell to her and she responded, "Jazz? Dance? I can't hear you. Let's do both. Let's jance.") 

Think of them as a blend of Alphabeat and The Scissor Sisters transported to the 70's. The troupe has a handful of albums out on Permanent Vacation and are available for perusal on Spotify. My current fave is the ethereal and spaceship funky "What The Eyes Can't See".

La Roux @ Music Hall - Williamsburg
At just past 10PM, Team LaRoux walked on to the stage to a roar of approval. The set was their first post-Governor's Ball performance (which happened the weekend before here in NYC) and was a 70/30 mixture of faves from the debut set and brand new tunes from the upcoming sophomore record Trouble In Paradise (due out the first week of July).

Vocalist Elly Jackson is beautiful in her androgyny, choosing to rock a primary-color blocked top (the bottom half unbuttoned) with her iconic styled red hair. Elly was flanked by keyboardist/vocalist Micky O'Brien, a drumkit, a synth setup and guitars. Early in the set, a saxophone jumped on stage during "Let Me Down Gently" and ROCKED out. Oh, and she had a floor fan. Yup - Beyonce isn't the only one.

At one point during their set, fans started tossing oversized balloons to be batted around the venue and eventually up to the stage. By midway through La Roux's set, there had to be 20+ balloons flying around or taking rank on either side of Elly and her microphone. At one point she smirked and said, "This isn't a f*ckin' Flaming Lips show," and later, "Where the f*ck are they coming from?" We never did find out and to be honest, it got old fast when you were trying to rock out only to get pelted in the head by balloons. To whoever chose to bring so many, uh...thanks.

The show opened with new cut "Let Me Down Gently", the song that helped launch the new era. Familiar singles in "Fascination" and "I'm Not Your Toy" helped break up the torrent of new music which -- it needs to be said -- all sounds fantastic. If you are like me and felt like a lot of the material on La Roux sounded very similar, you'll be happy to know that Trouble In Paradise is all very catchy but every song stands on its own legs while still feeling inherently La Roux. My faves of the new set were "Tropical Chancer", "Kiss and Not Tell", "Cruel Sexuality" and "Silent Partner".

Faves like "Colourless Color" as well as singles "Quicksand" and "In For The Kill" (my fave) provoked serious sing along sessions. The group finished with "Tigerlily" and finally, returned for their encore of their most mainstream hit in "Bulletproof".

La Roux @ Music Hall - Williamsburg
Elly's voice sounds just as haunting and ephemeral in person as it does on the records. She stayed quite serious and intense throughout the set (with the exception of the insane balloon throwing) and danced with her mic stand as she warbled through, occasionally walking to either side of the stage to sing directly into the audience. I can't explain how thrilling it is to see her literally less than a foot from my face singing my favorite jam "In For The Kill" with that stotic monotone intensity. (instagram vid plug) I just can't.

I legit cannot wait for July 7th to grab Trouble In Paradise. Given what I heard, it may just be the true piece de resistance in La Roux's catalog to cement the fact that La Roux's greatness wasn't just lightning in a bottle. The wait is finally over and La Roux "hiatus" (per Elly "or whatever the hell they wanted to call it") is officially done

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