Robert DeLong taught a master class in how to construct electronic music live, on the fly, during his performance at Amoeba Hollywood Feb. 5.
He began by building layered vocal loops and electronic drum beats before singing along to a bass-heavy programmed backbeat. DeLong demonstrated his strongest points early on: his high energy and ability to combine densely layered EDM songs with the feel of a live rock band.
The songs hit hard — I felt like my skull was rattling from the bass. DeLong made up for his just so-so voice by manipulating it when necessary and singing earnestly as well, taking the Ben Gibbard heart-on-sleeve approach. “Global Concepts” best exemplified his Postal Service meets Skrillex approach to making music, combining visceral dance music with emotional delivery.
The busyness of DeLong’s music only occasionally got the best of him when his vocals would fail to rise to the occasion while he inexplicably played a maraca egg at the same time, for instance, or when the mic would drop out, perhaps overloaded with effect. The best part of the show by far was when he ditched the singing and electronic instruments to do their thing on their own while he played live drums along to the backing music. That was the moment when he did indeed make everyone “fucking dance,” as “Global Concepts” claims. Side note: Besides the novelty value of his playing drums in a one-man band setting, DeLong’s a pretty great drummer.
DeLong seemed looser on “Change (How You Feel),” dancing while knob twiddling — perhaps he had less to do? But the sound was no less striking.
“I wanna be anywhere but here” he sang perversely on “Just Movement,” perhaps his best song, while audience members clapped along, some of them with faces painted, as is custom at DeLong shows, with one of his minions walking around to paint the willing. DeLong took to the drums again, restarting the dance party. Later, he wielded a Wiimote (the controller for Nintendo’s Wii) like a magic wand, shaking the mic too, as he sang to a twisted jam.
There was a lot going on for sure, with DeLong slipping in a clip of Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” and riffing on Filter’s “Take a Picture” for some reason. DeLong’s ADD antics could be toned down a notch, but it was still unlike any show I’d seen before.
See more pictures from the show here.