See also: Our Gotye slideshow
El Rey Theatre
Better than ... watching the music video for "Somebody That I Used To Know" over and over.
"Somebody That I Used To Know" is the kind of song you can never get out of your head. It might have something to do with the fact that if you sign on to Facebook or turn on your radio, there is a good chance you will hear it playing or see it posted (multiple times). After seeing Gotye perform live however, it is clear what he brings to the table is something special -- and that's really why it sticks.
Wouter "Wally" De Backer -- the true identity of Gotye -- started the sold-out show with a bang. Literally. When the curtain was finally drawn, he emerged from backstage and began to play the array of drums displayed across the front of the stage. Three mics were set up around the drums giving him ample ability to belt his soulful songs while he played percussion.
Gotye's live performance was even more compelling than his artful videos. His voice complimented the interesting song arrangements and impressive percussion, and the music was supplemented by projected images and animations created by Rubber House, the animation studio that is responsible for many of Goyte's music videos.
Though it was likely that the 700+ crowd had been drawn after falling under the spell of "Somebody That I Used To Know," everyone seemed excited by each song he played and charmed by his cheerful banter in between. Even the guys in the audience seemed to be taken with him, and not ashamed of saying so. Shortly after the first song, a fellow standing nearby was overheard remarking, "So, um, I am not gay or anything, but I am sorta in love with this guy."
Gotye's setlist structured the show around the single everyone had come to see. He began by warming up the audience with upbeat songs including "Eyes Wide Open," his first single from his most recent album Making Mirrors, and "State of the Art" a humorous song about a D575 Cotilion Organ.
The show then progressed to songs that encouraged audience participation, such as "Save Me," for which Gotye set up singing parts for the audience.
About half way through the show Gotye announced that Kimbra, who sings the female part in "Somebody," had hopped on a plane back to New Zealand and would not be performing. Before anyone could become distraught, he launched into the song telling the ladies in the crowd they must pick up the slack. The crowd went wild, perhaps too wild. People began shoving, cheering, singing, and most of all filming. I suddenly found myself lost in a sea of iPhones, cameras, and recording devices that had been thrust into the air to capture the performance everyone would be talking about tomorrow (or at least they hoped).
Everyone started to sing along. Eyes closed, faces scrunched, hundreds of people abandoned their inhibitions and sang they way they would when they are alone in their car. The girls in the audience took their task seriously (and they actually sounded pretty good).
When the song ended, there was a moment where everyone seemed to lose it. People were talking, and phones sending pictures and Facebook updates lit up the darkened room. Then, when Gotye transitioned into songs that were slower and more haunting -- including tear-rendering "Bronte" about a friend's dog who passed away -- a chorus of "SHHHH's" rang out, and the crowd quieted.
The encore of "In Your Light," "I Feel Better" and "Learnalilgivinanlovin" ensured the audience went home happy.
Personal bias: I might have been personally responsible for about a thousand of the 58 million Youtube hits Gotye has gotten on his now famous bodypaint video for "Somebody That I Used To Know."
The Crowd: A solid mix of twenty- and thirty-somethings, with some forty-somethings thrown in, who collectively championed iPhone coverage of their favorite songs and weren't terribly interested in dancing. As the night wore on however, most couldn't resist the urge to head-bob and sway a bit -- as long as the lights were low.
Random notebook dump: I felt like the 699th wheel, because I didn't get the memo that a Gotye show is the also "PDA-friendly Couples' Night" at the El Rey.
Set list below.
Eyes Wide Open
Easy Way Out
Smoke And Mirrors
State of the Art
Thanks For Your Time
Somebody That I Used To Know
Hearts a Mess
Don't Worry, We'll Be Watching You
In Your Light
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I Feel Better
See also: Our Gotye slideshow