Matthew Dear Brings on the Weekend

March 5th, 2012

Matthew Dear – The Bowery Ballroom – March 2, 2012

There’s just something about a Friday night, the way it straddles the workweek and the weekend, with one foot in each. And Matthew Dear playing a sold-out show at The Bowery Ballroom was the perfect soundtrack for a rainy Friday night, straddling both the indie-rock and electro-dance worlds with aplomb. Following an inside-the-rubber-band warm-up dance set from Brooklyn’s Blondes, Dear kept the audience waiting just a moment, lights down, bodies ready to move.

It began with vocals, Dear singing, his voice echoing in digital loops while lights below the band illuminated their skinny-tie-and-cardigan-chic attire. But after that moment, it was all boogie. Dear let slip at one point that it was only the third show with this band, but they played like a veteran groove machine. Buoyed by mushroom-cloud bass, never-quit drumming and an intense, echoing trumpet, Dear’s lyrics came off like some sort of modern-day beat poetry. Often he’d sing a line and it would hang in the air, looping about while he left the microphone and strutted across the stage, the words like the smoke left behind by a cartoon roadrunner, holding their shape for a second and then poof!

Once the audience was warmed up, Dear offered a one-two punch: highlight versions of “Tide,” with its sing-along lyric of “I don’t care about you anymore,” and “You Put a Smell on Me.” Between songs throughout the set, the punchy dance beats dissolved into simmering ambient bleats of sound that cleared out one tune making way for the next, like Friday straddling the weekend border, it was nothing but party time ahead. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Diana Wong |