There is nothing quite like hearing the song that’s been stuck in your head — persistently playing on repeat — finally materialize in front of you.
When the all-too-recognizable trickles of the xylophone and Gotye’s effortlessly poignant voice introduced “Someone That I Used To Know” last night at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, the crowd went ballistic; a collective jolt of ecstatic bliss took over, followed by a vigil of raised iPhones and Androids.
With over 160 million views on YouTube, “Someone That I Used To Know” may be what brought the Belgian-Australian musical extraordinaire to the forefront of the American audience’s minds, but his undeniably skillful performance showed San Francisco that his vocal and instrumental mastery began long before this viral sensation.
Gotye is anything but a one-trick pony — a common pitfall for Billboard chart toppers — and his performance extended beyond his breezy ability to soar from crooning falsettos to a satisfying cry of yearning.
If you could divert your attention away from the earnest balladeering and were to look just at his hands — crossing over one another schematically, swiftly pushing on electronic triggers, and handling a motley collection of percussion devices — you could have mistaken him for a chef cooking an extravagantly complex meal.
But of course, he is not a cook, but a sonic connoisseur, who has an obsession with crafting a fusion of noises to deliver a rather different sensual experience for each song.
The reggae-tinted “State Of The Art” had the crowd smoothly rocking to the drop of the heavy tech-beats, whereas the ethereal echoes of “Bronte” captured the listener in personal contemplation.
The comic-style (think non-demented Gorillaz) visuals that were projected on the massive screen gave his rather organic execution a futuristic sparkle — and all the gleeful weed smokers in the building seemed sincerely grateful.
Gotye’s original show was booked for the 500-capacity Independent before upsizing to the 8,000-capacity Bill Graham. Hopefully his recent blow up will bloom in to a fruitful career so that he’ll continue to grace us with more poptastic ballads – not just end up as somebody that we used to know.
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