Lovers Lane
Rialto Square Theatre
Avondale Music Hall
ATT Internet 75

Gotye & Kimbra live!

| April 11, 2012

Gotye managed to jump from the Park West to the Aragon Ballroom without playing a single note in Chicago. This impressive leap probably irked the Belgian Aussie’s handful of devotees and those taking pride in unearthing the undiscovered gem. (Really, buying tickets for a chance to see someone in a pristine intimate space only to find out you’re stuck with an inferior sound system must burn.) However, the blame rests on the strength of a killer single that does the nearly impossible: finding a home on both WRXT and The Mix’s playlists.

“Somebody I Used To Know” is Wouter De Backer’s “Rolling In The Deep.” It seems a bit cheeky to suggest Gotye could ever hope to achieve the same level of success as Adele (his status as the redheaded stepchild of Sting and Peter Gabriel cuts him off at the knees), but reserve multiple spots on the Grammy nomination list for the tune. Instead of wearing thin after multiple listens, the prickly xylophone and echoing mix of resignation and pleading turn all within earshot into obsessive-compulsives. Guest-vocalist Kimbra’s feminine push-and-pull makes it all a bit mental, too.

Toward the end of a 45-minute set at the sold-out venue (Kimbra likened the Aragon’s cosmos to Mordor during her opening slot), Gotye plucked out the familiar first notes of the hit, alleviating all that pent-up tension that comes from waiting. He sputtered to a quick stop after flubbing the lyrics, blaming it on people watching. Whether or not that’s the case, he seemed a bit exasperated at having to play the tune for the umpteenth time. This is not the time to get distracted, especially with a sea of outstretched iPhones and cameras casting a sickly glow over the room. Anyone not armed with a recording device screamed the lyrics to invisible phantoms of paramours while Gotye and Kimbra acted out the scene on stage.

Gotye showcased his third record, Making Mirrors, with the help of a crackling four-piece band that evened out the album’s electronic leanings. Surrounded by a sonic fortress of machines and waist-high percussive hardware, he looked like the captain of a futuristic spacecraft. This nerve center produced the Motown-ready saxophone-in-a-box of “Learnalilgivinalovin” and distorted his tenor into a bass worthy of Barry White on the reggae-flavored “State Of The Art.” The deliberate graze of “Heart’s A Mess” bounced up against the boogie of “In Your Light,” which could easily share DNA with a selection out of the Fitz & The Tantrums playbook.

Considered the luckiest Kiwi around, Kimbra’s riding the wave of “Somebody I Used To Know.” Gotye didn’t exactly pluck her out of oblivion; she’s had her Warner Bros. debut, Vows, prepped and ready. Dressed in a red satin flamenco dress, the lusty-voiced singer offered up a quick preview of her nostalgia-heavy style. The tribal rhythms of “Settle Down” coupled with her Billie Holiday rat-a-tat scatting defied lyrics longing for a future spent saddled with kids and a hubby. Stripped of its vocals, “Samaritan” could fit comfortably in the Dave Matthews Band school of jam-heavy riffs. Kimbra dropped the demure aura of her “Somebody” performance (cemented by YouTube’s viral reach) and let loose, turning the song into a primal catcall.

— Janine Schaults

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Category: Live Reviews, Weekly

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