Tuesday night at The Crofoot Ballroom featured a quality pairing of two of today’s up and coming pop acts that combined saccharine hooks, dance ready beats and a bit of showmanship: The Knocks and Alex Clare.
After the numerous blog favorite tracks the Knocks have released over the past few years, I half expected a turntable heavy DJ set. Imagine my surprise when B-Roc and JPatt strutted out to a set-up featuring percussion, synthesizers and more. The simple, but effective instrumentation was a welcome enhancement to dance-ready orginal tracks like “Something I Can Dance To” and that night you don’t quite remember described in “Blackout”. JPatt digitally crooned on cuts like “Learn To Fly” with a bit of talk box and B-Roc brought the ruckus on side drums, particularly on a remix of The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done”. The NYC-based duo closed their set in crowd pleasing fashion with a sing-along rendition of “Brightside” that gave fans an added boost of energy for Alex Clare.
When Clare and a trio of musicians graced the stage, they wasted no time and gripping the audience with a weighty rendition of “Relax My Beloved”. Despite only one studio album of material to work with, Clare had no problem belting through more than an hour. A few masterful covers including Etta James’ “Damn Your Eyes” and Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and a new sneak peek at an endearing cut from a future EP had head nodding enthusiasm throughout the room (including the nearest security guard). Clare engaged with the crowd throughout the night and genuinely exhibited passion and enjoyment on sing alongs like “I Love You” and “Tightrope”.
Much of the dubstep and drum and bass influence (crafted in part by Diplo and Ariel Rechstaid) from The Lateness Of The Hour was saved for the pulsing end of the night. Fan favorites “Up All Night” and “Too Close” benefited from swells of bass and synth while Clare erupted with poise and passion. Aside from each band member’s musical talents, Clare’s backing keyboarder should be commended for bringing more energy than anyone in the room, even on slow jams like “Humming Bird”.
I tend to overanalyze live music, but I think my wife summed up Clare’s vocal ability perfectly. She remarked “Every time he stood on the tips of his toes, I could tell he was singing as hard and full as he possibly could.” There you have it, the secret to belting like Alex Clare.