Concert Review: GOTYE Secret Show (2012-02-09 @ The Sound Academy)
In early February, 102.1 The Edge announced the launch of a contest where radio listeners and Inside Edge Members could enter to win two tickets to see GOTYE (pronounced GO-TEA-EH) perform live at a “secret location” in Toronto. Having devoured two GOTYE records (Like Drawing Blood; and Making Mirrors) since catching early wind of the YouTube wave of “Somebody That I Used to Know”, I was determined to win.
I had even gone so far as to register an Inside Edge account for myself simply for the purpose of this contest.
Alas, I did not win… though luckily, a friend of mine did – so off we went to the secret location (The Sound Academy at Polson Pier) jealously scoffed at by our friends, and giddy for GOTYE.
Despite being two of the luckiest indie music fans in Toronto that night (and having little to complain about), I still need to say it: nobody likes going to The Sound Academy – for any reason; let alone to enjoy a talented musical act.
The location is inconvenient, the cabs which do go there are greedy and fickle in their selection of customers, drinks are expensive and the sight-lines within the venue are absolute garbage.
All that being said, the set-up for GOTYE’s intimate set was, surprisingly, very warm and inviting. Yeah – really nice. The Sound Academy found a purpose for their outdoor patio furniture and assembled a bistro-like setup in the middle of the floor space, allowing people to sit and mingle comfortably while waiting for the performance to start.
GOTYE (real name: Wally De Backer) came on stage, backed by a four-piece band (drums, guitar, bass, and a multi-instrumentalist) and exchanged a few brief pleasantries with the audience before opening his performance with “Eyes Wide Open”.
Arguably the best track off Making Mirrors, “Eyes Wide Open” launched with a quick gallop drum beat, and this energy remaining consistent throughout the six-song set. A song with beautiful vocal layering, pedal-steel guitar and a deep bass line, GOTYE demonstrated his expertise not only as a mixer, but also as a musician: a man surrounded by percussion, De Backer moved between a range of instruments throughout the set.
Emotive animations projected on a large white screen behind the band, ranging from cartoons to abstracts, backed each song and added a beautiful visual component to the show.
“Easy Way Out” followed – a short but energetic track with crunchy sound textures and a smooth falsetto chorus. “State of the Art” had De Backer’s vocals processed live through a vocoder, adding undertones of humor to the song’s playful reggae-infused bassline.
Fourth of the set, and the only track from GOTYE’s second record Like Drawing Blood was “Heart’s A Mess”. Darker and more suspenseful, De Backer proved his strength as a vocalist with his belting delivery of the line “desperate to connect” – enough to tear through any remnant of an emotional guard you may have and almost leaving you wincing.
At long last came, “Somebody That I Used to Know” – the song which skyrocketed GOTYE to fame – and De Backer had the ladies of the audience fill in for Kimbra’s verse. Though beginning timidly, the verse ended in a triumphant roar, and was a memorable way to prompt audience participation. GOTYE wound down his set with “Bronte”, a beautiful and quiet finish to a perfectly choreographed performance.
GOTYE’s sincerity and passion for music was accurately depicted by the caliber and execution of his live performance; so for once, believe the hype. His third full-length LP – Making Mirrors (released Aug. 2011) is perfectly assembled from start to finish.
GOTYE returns to Toronto on March 31st for a sold-out performance at the Kool Haus, and will also be performing in April at the Coachella music festival in Indio, California.
- Photos by JOHN HOLLICK
Official Set List (not including encore):
1. Eyes Wide Open (Making Mirrors)
2. Easy Way Out (Making Mirrors)
3. State of the Art (Making Mirrors)
4. Hearts a Mess (Like Drawing Blood)
5. Somebody That I Used to Know (Making Mirrors)
6. Bronte (Making Mirrors)