About last night: Jamie Lidell at Great Scott

Jamie Lidell
April 24 at Great Scott
Jamie Lidell is in a funny place. So far, his career has been mostly IDM electronica stuff until last year's Multiply, which was a warm pop album highlighting his '60s soul voice. Multiply is an album that your mom and Starbucks and the nerdy dj down the block could love. Lidell stays true to his electronic roots, though: while his Wattstax singing could inspire some couples to copulate, the freaky IDM beats and rhythms would drive all thoughts of love out the door (i.e., you can try if you want, but you can't fuck to it.)


Again, true to his Supercollider/Warp roots, his Monday night show at Great Scott brought out the electronic crowd. (Distinguising characteristics: many people with dreadlocks, patience for bleeps, "other music" t-shirts!) Jamie took to the stage in a trench coat and proceeded to rock the crowd in a sample one-man-band manner reminiscent of Feist. He started with Mutliply's last track, "Game For Fools," where the backing track was simple and his pipes had a wonderful Otis Redding flavor. After the slow-jam treat of that, though, Lidell went into "The City," building the track up organically. First, he'd beatbox and record that onto his equipment, then he'd record rhythmic squeals and screams, and he'd put all those sounds together over a squelching synth line. (OTD jumps in to point out, totally pointlessly, that KT Tunstall is freaking AAA radio listeners out across the pond by doing pretty much the same schtick.)  The sounds were immediate and warm and as Lidell sings, he has this spazzy, somewhat childlike charisma. He's wearing thick black glasses, referring to himself as "Mr. Magoo," and showing off his excellent white-guy soul voice. It's always entertaining to see an attractive British dude get so into his singing that he shuts his eyes and goes into a Stevie-Wonder-at-the-keyboards-shrug. Hearing Multiply's tracks stripped down and built up in this fashion brought attention to the album's intricate makeup and the fact that Lidell's music is more convoluted and fascinating beyond the lush draw of his voice.  


This show was a great capoff to one of those weekends where you feel like everything is echoing everything else — the night before, I had the pleasure of seeing the film LOL at the Boston Independent Film Festival. LOL is about early twentysomethings and technology, showing up its boys in the cruelest of lights: in love with their computers and unaware of the real live girls in front of them. One character, played by Kevin Bewersdorf (RISD-educated, and you'd pick up on that the moment you see him play his music), was a musician who would make music by putting together videos of his friends making noises with their mouth. The "noisehead" songs linked scenes together, in a neat example of video and technology becoming community. The songs themselves were interesting, if borderline Bobby McFerrin at times. While it was a neat trick for the movie, seeing Lidell using his found-sound -- and wonderfully competent beatboxing -- blew that scene out of the water. Lidell's too bizarre to let something slip into Bobby McFerrin or Otis Redding lite: he may be echoing past heroes but he's not into slavish revivialism. The live show reveals how much of a special weirdo Lidell is, and it's hotter and sexier than on wax. So please, heed my advice and bring your special dude or lady to the Jamie Lidell show when he's opening up for Beck this summer.


-- Elisabeth Donnelly

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