Baths’ Time on Friday Night

December 5th, 2011

Baths – The Bowery Ballroom – December 2, 2011

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

Electronic music isn’t easy to perform live for a lot of reasons, the main one being that it’s difficult to make music derived from a guy clicking away on his laptop translate into a compelling live performance. Will Wiesenfeld of Baths doesn’t have this problem. If anything, watching the amount of work he puts into rebuilding songs before an audience sets new expectations of what an electronic-music show should look like.

Turning knobs and pressing down on what looked like an endless array of buttons while keeping rhythm of the songs with his entire body, Wiesenfeld certainly doesn’t make piecing these tracks together look easy. On Friday night at The Bowery Ballroom, he would often throw his hand back after touching his gear, as if all this endless tinkering had resulted in the equipment getting too hot to even touch. During some of Baths’ most memorable, Wiesenfeld would grab the microphone with both hands and add his ethereal vocals to this man-made symphony of samples, beats and other odd noises, acting as a reminder that he’s the original creator of this collection of sounds.

“This is the most excitable New York crowd I’ve ever had,” said Wiesenfeld of an audience that followed his every move, finding ways to dance along to everything from the glitchy breakbeats of “Indoorsy” to the calming swells of “Aminals.” While Baths’ ability to showcase all the effort it takes to piece together this music impressed, the show’s best moments occurred when it all would coalesce into energy strong enough to sweep up the audience with it. If there’s one right way to play this new chillwave sound live, this is how you do it. —Dan Rickershauser