Baths Delivers Live

June 17th, 2013

Baths/Houses/D33J – Webster Hall – June 15, 2013


Webster Hall filled up early on Saturday night for Baths, Houses and D33J. The triple bill proved to be a great combination of varied talent and soundscapes, and all three acts shared a common trait: a knack for performing live. D33J, up first, drew a strong crowd for such an early set. His eerie instrumentals, which he looped in along live guitar solos, effectively hypnotized the crowd. Next, Houses, a dreamy electro-pop outfit featuring real-life couple Tortoriello and Megan Messina, filled ears with swelling sounds as they played material off their sophomore album, A Quiet Darkness, the crowd excitedly swaying in response. Houses’ music lends itself well to a live setting, and it provided a calming introduction to Baths’ headlining set.

Electronic virtuoso Will Wiesenfeld goes by the name of Baths, and he knows how to conquer the difficult feat of performing electronic music live. It’s apparent once he gets onstage that he wants his audience to feel something separate and unique from the experience of listening to his recorded music. Baths’ presence isn’t that of a shy, impersonal soloist turning knobs. But rather, Wiesenfeld has a commanding air about him. “We’re going to play a bunch of songs!” he said emphatically upon taking the stage, before introducing friend and bandmate Morgan Greenwood, who accompanied him for the night. The duo dove straight into an impressive version of “Worsening,” off Baths’ most recent LP, Obsidian, which brings a more introspective, morbid tone to his music. Songs from the new album dominated the set, although Wiesenfeld did play a few other favorites. Highlights included triumphant versions of “Miasma Sky,” “Ironworks,” “Lovely Bloodflow” and “No Past Lives,” featuring Wiesenfeld’s supreme piano skills.

Above all, lyrics sat at the forefront of the night’s material, and the live iterations of these songs were intricate and satisfying, especially for longtime fans. A darker, denser dreamscape inhabited the second half of the set, and the swaying audience head-banged along to some of the deepest, loudest low-end bass I’ve heard at Webster Hall in a while—the music benefiting from this dominating aural effect. Wiesenfeld was clearly involved in the deliciously full sound throughout the entire set, and at one point between songs, he giggled in earnest and said, “I’m having a very good time.” He wasn’t alone: His wholehearted fervor was intoxicating to behold. —Schuyler Rooth