Tag Archives: SBTRKT

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A Dinosaur Party at Webster Hall

December 14th, 2012

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Webster Hall – December 13, 2012


What, you’ve never heard of Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs? Sounds like a totally facetious line for a made-up band, but there is indeed one by said name. TEED is the moniker of one Orlando Higginbottom. As if his given name weren’t posh enough, he is the son of professor and choir conductor at New College, University of Oxford. Needless to say, Higginbottom is well versed in musical composition, producing infectious beats and pop melodies out of his parents’ garage in Oxford. His first studio album, Trouble, would delight fans of Gold Panda’s and SBTRKT’s.

On Thursday at Webster Hall, Higginbottom donned black feathers (à la Black Swan) across his sleeves as he opened with “Panpipes” to start the set. He once exclaimed, “I’m going to dress up as a dinosaur, make weird electro shit and just enjoy it.” And last night was no exception. Enshrouded in darkness and lit only by strobe lights and neon that would make Dan Flavin proud, the crowd waved cell phones around as if they were glow sticks for “Trouble.” The lights warmed to a sunrise for “Your Love” and heavy drum and bass thumped through “Stronger.” To add to the party atmosphere, a pair of dancers dressed in unitards with piano keys running down their legs bookended Higginbottom’s DJ table. Throughout four wardrobe changes, tails were prominent on the dancers’ costumes. Folks, Higginbottom takes his dinos seriously.

He bypassed the typical exit from the stage prior to his encore, but added an amazing black-and-white headdress to his already flamboyant getup. Higginbottom has said of his headpieces: “I’m just slightly poking fun at the idea of the cool guy in a cap under a bridge with graffiti. There’s no thought or theories behind it apart from something entertaining or fantastical that looks good.” Indeed it did as he closed the show with two fan favorites, “Tapes & Money” and “Household Goods.” —Sharlene Chiu

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SBTRKT Proves He Belongs

April 4th, 2012

SBTRKT – Webster Hall – April 3, 2012

(Photo: Jared Levy)

SBTRKT isn’t interested in the question of identity. He avoids it all together. A semicircular tribal mask covers the top half of his face, protruding forward. It shifts in relation to the movements of his head. It’s a layer of protection, although seemingly unnecessary. The name is actually the alias of UK producer Aaron Jerome. He explained last night at Webster Hall that the mask and the anonymity of the pseudonym are used because “I’d rather not talk about myself as a person, and let the music speak for itself.” Which is what he did, and in the process proved that SBTRKT belongs in the company of electronic music’s most acclaimed artists.

The music speaks with immediacy, but it’s not as easily categorized. On his eponymously titled debut, the songs touch on a number of genres: electronic, dubstep, soul and house. But when played live, the distinctions are meaningless. With the assistance of frequent collaborator Sampha, the two splayed the album onto the crowd. Jerome was constantly in motion—programming, adjusting and, presumably, improvising sections of electronic layers. He also added live drumming. Snare hits skittered across a broad pond of bass. Sampha’s voice, somewhere between James Blake’s without the puberty cracks and Antony’s without the pomp, wailed from below the depths. It felt natural until you realized that each sound filtered through many 1’s and 0’s and heavy amplification.

But the strength of the performance was in the immediacy of the arrangements. From show and album opener “Heatwave” to Sampha’s strong offerings of “Something Goes Right” and “Trials of the Past,” each song felt denser while remaining as approachable and fundamentally the same. Sampha rhetorically asked, “What would you like to hear?” midway through the set. The crowd responded in full, with multiple answers leading to auditory mush. The pair ended up playing a remix of “Wildfire” featuring Drake. This seemed to be the right answer. But SBTRKT’s choices, questionable as they may be, all seem to be the right answer, for himself and for his fans. —Jared Levy