With Massive Attack across town displaying their usual flair for the tense dramatic at Orpheum Theatre, last night’s Matthew Dear show at Great Scott was a lesson in indie electronica.
Combining a young showman’s attitude and a seasoned crooner’s timing, the Ghostly International co-founder and avant-pop chameleon proved he’s a bit more charismatic as frontman of a full electronic band than he is as a DJ buried behind laptops and a mixer. We caught some Phlipcam action of him performing “Monkey,” one of our faves off Dear’s recent Black City release (check our four-star OTR review here), which aches and yearns with a mechanical funk that takes its new wave foundation, sprinkles it with dashes of David Bowie and Peter Gabriel, and grinds it through a futuristic pop grinder. While Dear is more than a mere pin-up for the jilted generation (he graciously, if slightly uncomfortably, posed for a photo right before he hit the stage), you can’t help but think larger audiences will gravitate toward him if he remains dedicated to perfecting the type of dance party soundtracking desolate, amoral urban landscapes. Somehow, his music feels like infidelity in sound.
Appropriately, the mood of Dear’s relatively dark, detached-yet-engaging performance was set early on by solo opening performances by locals Coralcola and Andre Obin. Worcester’s Colarcola weaved an ambient blanket of loop-laden dream-glitch-dream jack-hammer atmospherics, while Cambridge’s Obin overcame early technical issues to fire up a dense sonic architecture of glimmering vocal techno fit for a midnight run through the crumbling streets of Warsaw.