October 5, 2012
Chastain Park Amphitheatre
Atlanta, GA USA
Review by Nolan Smith
Photos by Chris Eason
Gotye - Gotye, Kimbra, Jonti - Austin City Limits '12
The Evolution of Gotye On Full Display
Having heard rumors that the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie was sold out for weeks in advance of the Gotye concert, I was astonished to see the venue wasn't even half full. In fact, the upper sections above the luxury boxes was curtained off to create the illusion the building was nearer capacity than it actually was. For those of you who were thinking about going but didn't, let me tell you right now you made a very big mistake. This triple bill of Jonti, Kimbra and 'the guy with the massive hit' was all that and more.
The evening kicked off with Jonti. He performed a mix of techno, house and vocals over British-styled jungle beats. This cat was full of energy and very enthusiastic about his collection of work he wanted to share (having traveled from Sydney, Australia for the opportunity). Unfortunately, this crowd just didn't understand what was going on and wasn't very responsive to the music he producing on stage. It wasn't until the end of his set that Jonti settled down and talked with the crowd. It was apparent from his dialogue he was appreciative of the grand stage he'd been given, and a bit overwhelmed at the chance to be on tour with a popular artist like Gotye. Oddly enough, the moment seemed to win over the crowd.
When Kimbra took the stage, she literally took complete control of it. The New Zealand born singer / songwriter has a huge personality and a flare for the dramatic. Her outfit was inventive and had a funky twist without looking cheesy. She wore a dress skirt adorned with a shirt that seemed to be made of pom-poms. When the sassy 22-year old removed the front of her shirt to reveal a spicy bustier, the crowd showed its appreciation.
Kimbra has become a singing sensation in her native country, and is only now making some inroads overseas. The energetic song, "Two Way Street", off her debut album Vows, was by far the top song of the 30-minute set she performed. It was lively, fun and one of those tunes you know from the instant you hear it, there's something really special going on there. The song was so good, it had the crowd on its feet dancing and swaying about.
The man of the hour, of course, was the Belgian born musician Wally De Backer, better known by his nom de plume, Gotye. It's hard to know what you're going to get from a performer whose only claim to fame is a clever YouTube video that has received an astounding 342 million hits, and counting, worldwide.
Tonight, the crowd was going to get a dose of this artist's three-album repertoire, including a top-heavy look at last year's Making Mirrors. Gotye performed 11 of the 13 cuts on the record. To give the audience an idea of where he's been, and how foar the musical travels have been, the first three tunes to start the evening, as well as the three- song encore, all featured individual cuts from Wally's past efforts on 2003's Boardface, the 2006 offering Like Drawing Blood, and the aforementioned Making Mirrors. Without a doubt, the evolution of Gotye was on full display this evening.
It's unfortunate that a majority of the crowd in attendace was here for one song and one song only. Such is the price of success. Gotye doesn't really interact with the audience that much, unless you're rude, arrogant and he notices your immaturity from the stage. Instead, De Backer lets the music, more specifically the drums, do a lot of the talking for him. It's a real shame too. It's difficult for people to get a sense of who you really when you're as reserved as this artist is. That observation aside, tonight's audience seemed content to be enchanted by Gotye's confident yet reserved stage presence.
The only real emotion he displayed the entire evening came three-quarters of the way through the show while he was performing "Bronte." There was a moron in the crowd who interrupted the beautiful song loudly voicing his concern he hadn't heard "the hit" yet. Gotye stopped the show to candidly ask the heckler if he should stop what he was doing on stage, or continue. Met with dead silence, De Backer actually started "Bronte" over again and finished without incident. Everyone gave him a huge applause and laughed at the situation, but you could tell the incident really annoyed him.
And wouldn't you know it, the moment everyone had been waiting for, including the admonished fool upfront, was the next song. Gotye recently performed "Somebody That I Used to Know" on Saturday Night Live. The song was also parodied on Glee, and become a radio staple played seemingly every ten minutes. When Kimbra walked out on stage to perform her part of the song, she was met with a giant roar from the crowd. This intense four-minute moment was obviously the highlight of the evening, and unfortunately overshadowed other standout tunes performed this night including "Smoke and Mirrors", "Looking for the Easy Way Out" and "Eyes Wide Open."
Whether or not any other tracks from Gotye's 2011 album make any inroads on radio remains to be seen. For his sake, he better hope it does. One hit wonders are novelty items at best, no matter how many albums you have under your belt. It's also an excellent way to silence your critics, even if they're only an army of one.