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Chromeo tonight!


MAJUSCULE

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Well, it was once again one of the best shows I've ever seen. Huge production value, both sonically and visually. Funky as ever with about 2/3 of the tunes off Frequent Flyer, the other third split between Fancy Footwork and Business Casual. It was timed and paced to a tee, with their storm/intro launching right into several hot, hot numbers before even really addressing the crowd besides the first hello. They zipped through 14-15 tunes before another 3 on the encore. I was quite satisfied with the tune selection.

 

The rig... It was pretty ridiculous. Everything on stage is chrome, other than their famous mannequin legs. I'm talking all the keyboards, the cymbals, the backs of the trigger pads, even the freakin' fretboards on their guitars/bass. P-Thugg had his trusty talkbox up front, a Voyager on top of an NE3 to the left and a great big modular behind him, controlled by a Keystation 88. He also had some kind of drum pad sitting on the right of the Electro and some pedals sitting under the modular. Dave One had an MS-20 (Original, I think), and another out-of-view keyboard on his mannequin leg table. Very cool.

 

They had a huge mirror behind the stage, which was interesting. They also had a plethora of strobes and spots. Their stage show is on point. Seriously, not many groups are as polished as smooth throughout their show. Everything from back-to-back riffing on top of the wall of subs, perfectly timed transitions, to P-Thugg making the crowd scream with his talkbox tricks. Dave even soloed with six lights planted on his chromed guitar, making it shine like a holy grail. He had a little fun with the reflection, aiming it onto the venue's disco balls. He also took a selfie mid-song with a fan's phone and managed to get thirty or forty women to perch themselves on shoulders. Over all, fantastic work with the crowd. They're such a yin and yang. They totally contrast and complement each other in every way. It's not too hard to get the crowd into it when the place is chock-full and screaming for you to get on, but still. They took that ball and ran with it.

 

However, like when I saw them three years prior, I left with a little sour taste in my mouth. Funny that I can have reservations about one of the best shows I've ever seen, but... I just always feel kinda dumb dancing with so many tracks. The sound is huge, but they're just the two dudes. I get that that's the sound, with drum machines and sequencers and arpeggiators and the 80's and all... But still. I think there's a couple things behind that. First of all, it's unfortunately fake. I don't know if anyone else in the venue cared, but it was on my mind. Maybe more importantly for me, though, it leaves me wondering what they would sound like with a band. Particularly, P-Thugg covers a lot of backup vocals and features on the talkbox, which takes him away from the keys. I think he played the Voyager twice and the Electro three times all night... Sigh. The modular got more work, but I still would love to see what would happen if he was actually loose on the dear for a night. Dude's not a crazy technical player, but he knows his way around that stuff cold and is funky as hell.

 

Anyway... Great show. Great tunes. Great times. I'll see 'em as many times as I possibly can in my lifetime. I really do love them.

 

P.S. I thought during the show about how I first heard about them through a Fortner editorial. Thanks, Stephen. :thu:

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I hear you, man. I'm a fan of Chromeo, but I feel the same way seeing acts like that live. I can't get the obviousness of the tracks out of my mind. It was the same deal with Sleigh Bells, another duo whose music I like, but seeing them live is basically karaoke: a singer, a guitar player, and literally everything else coming from tracks. Even the parts that they're singing/playing are on the tracks, and they're just doubling it. Love the music, but I wouldn't pay to see them perform again. I guess us musos are the only ones who care about that stuff.

 

Chromeo did a collaboration with a Daryl Hall, where it was truly a full band, and that was pretty cool. They also guested on Live From Daryl's House. If you haven't seen that yet, worth checking out.

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It's funny, it seems everyone I've talked to about the show has brought up the Live at Daryl's House thing. Here, my guitarist friend who's a big fan of both, my trombone-playing accountant-looking prof, and others. Maybe the live band is an appealing thing? :snax: I have seen it before, but I think I'll watch it again.

 

I can see why they do it, obviously. They can pump a shitload of money into the lights and production even when they're playing the smaller venues and still make good coin themselves. They had a one-man opener, Waveracer. Seemingly hot stuff in EDM land, he was pretty cool. But much cheaper and easier to strike after his set than a full band.

 

Thankfully, they do still have live arrangements of the tunes, so even if most of the stuff sounds like the record, they switch up enough things to keep it fresh.

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I can see why they do it, obviously. They can pump a shitload of money into the lights and production even when they're playing the smaller venues and still make good coin themselves.

 

Using backing tracks/sequences for everything also removes all the RISK. It's like doing a trapeze act two feet off the ground. This is at first glance a good thing for the band, but it has its cost, because the musician playing with a predictable tempo and arrangement doesn't have to be on the same edge of alertness.

 

I love electronic music on albums, however it's made, but the unwritten contract between an audience and a live performer has always been, "I will try to pull this off RIGHT NOW, with no second chances, and make it work." It's like skating in the Olympics, you might fall down . . . or surpass all expectations.

 

 

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The issue of money cannot be understated. They probably would not be able to put on such a great show if they had to hire and tour with a full band. Touring is expensive and they are probably not pulling in as much as one might initially think. I agree that they are probably putting that money back into the stage show and the sound crew, which is a wise move.
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