IMOGEN HEAP with MILOSH at the El Mocambo, January 12. Tickets: $15. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Sometimes you don't need a lousy band or technical difficulties to almost ruin an intimate and beautiful concert. At the El Mo last Thursday, all it took was a couple of selfish shitheads.
Holy shit, man, if you wanna get loaded and talk to your buddies over the music, don't fucking do it at a small club where lots of other genuinely interested people have paid good money to actually hear the performer.
Organic-electro duo Milosh were the biggest victims of the night. Their ambient flourishes and earnest vocals competed desperately for the audience's attention but ultimately became background noise akin to two dudes fucking around with instruments at some party. Too bad, because their delicate mix of Boards of Canada and the Postal Service could shine in a quieter setting.
In terms of audience awareness, O.C. favourite and one-woman show Imogen Heap fared better, at least for the pretty intense fans who jammed up close to the stage so as not to miss any of her cute between-song banter, like introducing her band a laptop! The former Frou Frou singer was absolutely engaging to watch, alternating between keyboards, mixers and what looked like an autoharp (often within the same song).
Although she could be accused of being too dependent on technology when playing live, Heap certainly made up for that with inspired, emotive vocals ranging from hushed whispers to breathy and sexy to wailing, as in her piano-only take on the other really popular Garden State soundtrack song (right behind New Slang), Let Go.
Heap's show is interesting and exciting because she's willing to take chances, like performing the a cappella Hide And Seek - with vocal effects making her sound something like a choir of robots, while digitally looping her voice to create multiple harmonies. Between that and playing her current single, Goodnight And Go, which also required her to jump back and forth between instruments, it was clear that she'd transfixed the majority of the crowd who'd bothered to pay attention.
Many of the subtleties in her music got lost in the El Mo's muddy and below-average sound quality, but it was a rare treat to see a performer so enthusiastic about what she's doing and whose passion is so infectious.