All words by Svetlana
All photos by Shauna Alexander
As you approached the 930 club this past Thursday you heard this noise in the air that you just couldn’t shake: yes, fair readers-that’s what overwhelming buzz sounds like.
Lets face some facts here: the Gotye (with Kimbra opening) show had been sold out for something like 8 weeks ahead of the schedule, and for any of us who have attended an early Fleet Foxes or MGMT or (gasp) Foster The People show in recent memory, we know why: because of that ONE SONG. That ONE song that can move thousands of tickets. Every band wants it, and every once in a while a band actually does get it and sometimes the band is already booked in a teeny venue to sharpen their teeth before hitting the revered stage of 930 Club but not in this case: that ONE song (“Somebody I used to know”, in case you’ve been living under several rocks recently) was so strong, so on-the-nose (so to speak), that 930/IMP swept in before anyone else could and booked the Australian wonderkids that sing it together (even if they’re their own individual artists in day-to-day life) and put them right in front of us, on a plum night during a very busy show week in DC.
And we all showed up to see what would go down. Because, lets face it-as much as we ALL love that ONE song (and it is pretty impossible not to love it –hell, even the covers of it are pretty goshdarn adorable) the one thing that sells as many tickets as a hit song in DC is people’s desire to see “if things would go wrong”. And-to be honest-many things could have gone wrong in this scenario.
Two artists and a Thursday night show with only ONE big hit and one EP and one full length album BETWEEN THEM. Would they pull it off? Would we want to stay AFTER “Somebody I used to know” played? Would it be all production and no delivery? Well, it turns out there was not too many reasons to worry. Yes-they pulled it off. Yes-we stayed post “Somebody I used to know”. Yes-there was plenty of production in there but these kids seem genuinely nice and sweet and charming and happy to be there, and their niceness and sweetness and charmingness and happiness were pretty infectious.
A big part of the success of the show was how it was structured. For musical acts who so heavily rely on relationships for their songwriting material these two essentially walked us through the peaks and valleys of a relationship over the course of a trim two hours spent with them. Things kicked off as a buoyant (really, there is no other word) KIMBRA bounded onto the stage: big bangs, big dress, big shoes, BIG EYES, BIG SMILE, BIG VOICE.
Straight up she dived into “CAMEO LOVER” which, in my opinion, has all the potential it needs to become a massive summer hit (since it already didn’t become a massive winter hit): this is the kind of song Burt Bacharach would make in 2012 if he went to clubs and was a 22 year old girl: big chorus, sweeping emotions, an easy enough beat to dance to and all tied together with a sense of wonder that we don’t often see in this day and age. This song is that perfect “meet cute” moment at the start of a relationship. It has it all: the quirky girl you can’t take your eyes off, an evening spent goofing around and MAKING the BEST MEMORIES EVER.
Things take a turn for the more serious after that: songs about plain gold rings, settling down and that limbo we find ourselves in are all on the menu and that voice that sang that sing-along chorus just seconds a go (it seems) turns into a big, soulful roar as the relationship we’re all living through that night matures, and well, sours as well.
Kimbra is young, but she has plenty to offer: in an ideal scenario, I’d like to see her + St. Vincent go on tour together with video episodes of her and Annie kicking asses, taking names and breaking hearts across America. I’d subscribe to that youtube channel in a heartbeat.
After a half hour or so of our honeymoon period, Kimbra scooted off stage and we all go grab a drink and prepare ourselves for the hard/heartbreaking conversations we’re about to have with Gotye. If Kimbra was the very definition of the first six months or so of dating: from that time you first lay eyes onto each other to that first serious talk about “WHERE THIS IS GOING?” then Gotye is here to bring you the cold, hard facts of what sometimes happens after that.
The stage changes from a simple set-up to something involving, it seems, 850 microphones (hey, things are getting complicated, ok?), a projection screen in the background and so many percussion aides that I tell myself “This is either going to be really good, or really unnecessary”.
Luckily-it really IS really good. So much so that within the first two minutes of “Eyes Wide Open” I text Shauna (who is in the photo pit, hating all those microphones in front of everyone’s faces): “I think we should both marry him. We can be sister wives. Nbd”.
And no wonder-Gotye makes music for girls that guys are ok hearing too: nothing but heartfelt sweeps, low valleys to-the-now-gone high peaks and more. This is the END of the relationship and you’re LOVING THE PAIN. Every song sounds great, the band is on point, the projections are keeping those of us with our eyes (wide) open entertained even if no one is really moving on the stage at all and, before you know it, half of the 930 club is hugging someone (to never let go) and the other half is wishing they had someone to hug/never let go of. Business as usual.
And then, of course, it is time for that ONE SONG: Kimbra comes out in a slinky black number, Gotye wipes a sliver of sweat off his forehead and they dive into the sonic equivalent of the most tender/sad/feels-so-wrong-it-is-so-right break up sex we’ve heard of late. Everyone on stage has been hurt. Everything sucks. Everyone is on the mend but the mend is not going as planned. Everyone in the audience can identify. Everyone in the audience wishes they had someone to break up with so they could go home and have break-up sex to this song to now. Everyone is on board with this relationship being over, IF it comes with a song like this.
And then-some other songs happen, yes, and they’re pretty lovely too, perfect for lulling you into a tearful sleep- but we’re all too busy wiping our literal and figurative tears and getting ourselves back up and (maybe) back into the game that we’re just glad we’re not left alone RIGHT AFTER that song. See you on the rebound guys.