Jamie Lidell w/ James Pants Bluebird Theater Monday June 2, 2008 Better than: Any Monday night show in my personal history.
From the moment Jamie Lidell and his band take the stage, it’s apparent that something weird is afoot. It’s the clothes. Three of the five are in costume. Lidell is garbed in striped pants with an incredibly baggy crotch. His shirt is also striped, and over that he wears a black jacket. His shoes are purple and shiny. Behind him are a big, bearded man in an embroidered red silk robe and sunglasses and a guy in a white jumpsuit that could easily double as a superhero costume. It’s an eye-catching group, and the huge assortment of weird instruments and props on stage only adds to the effect.
Then the music starts.
Lidell’s madcap muse has crafted a sound out of elements of funk, house, IDM and soul. At one end of his spectrum is his smoothest neo-soul, classic sounds flavored with just a hint of electronic textures. At the other is the more experimental and glitchy sounds of his earlier work, notably in the band Super_Collider. A few songs into the set, Lidell dismissed the band (several members came into the audience to dance) and revealed a level of his music I hadn’t previously heard, a kind of far-out, dirty, tribal space-funk built on punishing machine rhythms and digital sound manipulation. It was incredible and, by far, the highlight of the night.
The rest of the set was excellent. Lidell is a captivating performer and his band does an excellent job of backing him and allowing him to bring that out. He crooned, he yelped, he hit things, he twisted knobs and made weird fucking noises that made me very happy. He cajoled the audience and invited them to help and generally had them eating out of the palm of his hand. By the time it was over I had a lot more energy than when I came in, despite unknown calories burned dancing, cheering and sweating during the show.
Take that, first law of thermodynamics.
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Critics Notebook: Personal Bias: I like Lidell’s early material more than his recent, but everything I heard last night was fantastic. Random Detail: Before the show I saw an incredible cloud. Maybe it was an omen meaning: This will be a kick-ass show. By the Way: Opener James Pants was like a junior version of Lidell, crossed with a wedding DJ. Not that interesting, but keep trying.
Set List Another Day Figure Me Out Out of My System *Solo* Feel Good Hurricane Where'd You Go Wait for Me Game for Fools Multiply