Odesza has never been to Houston. Or Texas for that matter. But they were at Fitzgerald’s last night.
Imagine a pair of electronica guys (who, unlike some rather popular French robots, aren’t afraid to show their faces) playing beats in a smoky room with vivid images bursting on the wall behind them. Imagine a frank pair who knew exactly what they were doing exactly when they needed to do it.
They’re fresh too. “Summer’s Gone,” their debut album, is only two years old. It’s been a while since a young electronica group sounded original. Most times you hear a rip-off of Daft Punk or Aphex Twin. But Odesza played something that sounded like five years into the future.
Their background images ranged from Japanese Zen to a geometrical acid trip. For a song or two the visuals looked like something off of Windows Media Player but the standard was colors and shapes and places that made a hypnotic blend with the music.
Important to note is that there were two shows last night. Minutes before Odesza took over the ground floor, VNV Nation played upstairs. They played upstairs for two solid hours. Talk about a generation gap. There were a few millenials on the second floor, but it’s safe to say the adults enjoyed the Hell out of themselves upstairs. During the VNV Nation set a few dozen college kids preferred to be downstairs and listen to lazy electronic beats from a warm up artist. I’m not saying Kodak was bad, I’m saying the kids had no idea about the electro-industrial one floor up. Music aside, it was a clever show. Ronan Harris, the vocals, must have spoken to a good third of the crowd. One by one. Pointing out their small eccentricities, asking how one was doing, goading the crowd into singing louder than he was on the mike. There was a hidden political message as well. Not one about whom to vote for (though if Thatcher were still in power I’m sure that would have made things interesting last night) but more within how many times people shouted back lyrics that kept in time with the “Victory, Not Vengeance” ethos.
That’s what helps make a show a show. It’s not just the visuals and the live tracks. It’s how the band interacts with the crowd. It’s people-watching in-between the music. Like seeing a guy who looks like Commissioner Gordon chat with the bartender about how he’s been coming around for 35 years, before walking back to his son with a pair of beers. Or overhearing punk girls in line outside VNV Nation’s tour discussing their ripped, children’s sized, comic-book themed clothing. “I love the way boy’s t-shirts fit . . . except around the neck.” It’s seeing complete strangers choreograph themselves in a chaotic frenzy of jumping and singing.
Did Odesza do that to the crowd? Yes. Young as they are they’ve got fans in Houston. People who knew the track they wanted to hear yelled in the first three seconds of its playing last night. That’s the litmus test. Not to mention most of the audience couldn’t sit still. Bad Electronica music makes you sit and chat. The good kind causes synapses to fire off in your brain and signals to shoot down your spine, telling you to synchronize your body with the tempo or the bass.
by DL Haydon