Gotye is having a huge year.
The Aussie singer, Wally De Backer, and his five-man band are riding the still-cresting wave of hit single "Somebody That I Used to Know," which exhibits a stunning musicality and dedication to craft not often found on the Billboard Top 40.
Last night, Gotye visited Miami, treating a diverse crowd of listeners to some sweet visuals, playful banter, and of course, the best break-up anthem of the year.
A little rain couldn't stop the crowds from coming out to see Gotye with friends and family. There wasn't any one type of person at the Klipsh Amphitheater last night. Having a number-one hit single will bring out the families, the couples, the young and old, the teenage girls, the hipsters, and everyone else.
Gotye is happy to share the spotlight with some other up-and-comers from around the world. Fellow Australian Jonti opened up the night with some experimental, catchy electronic grooves, followed by a lively set from Louisiana indie-pop band Givers, playing their second show on the tour so far.
By 9 p.m., the sun had set, the grass had dried, and the time had come for the main attraction. Everyone cheered and the girls got a little crazy as De Backer and his boys hit the stage. He looks a bit different than he does in his mega-hit music video, watched by more than 330 million. His hair is shorter now. But his voice is just as stunning as ever.
The stage setup seems quite bare in comparison to the crazy, over-the-top light rigs and flashing distractions of some of the DJs that have recently come through Bayfront Park. By comparison, Gotye's subtle light show is a subtle way to set the mood and atmosphere than an in-your-face part of some epic performance.
But beyond the lighting, the real visual element was the unique and imaginative series of animations that ran on a giant screen behind the band, displaying an abstract moving image or narrative story to match each song. Oftentimes, the accompanying music video gave the songs new depth and life, especially instrumentals like "Seven Hours with a Backseat Driver."
Midway through the performance, Gotye and crew played their sweet, pretty music, working the crowd into a hypnotized lull. Couples got all snuggly, putting their heads on one another's shoulders and swaying back and forth. Even though the hit single is about a relationship gone terrible, this was probably one of the best date concerts you could have gone to all year.
Everyone in De Backer's band is amazingly talented, with the singer bringing the most musical skill to the stage. The whole time, he was running around, from front to back, singing, playing percussion, keys, and samplers. His bandmates took turns switching instruments and singing backup melodies. They sounded just as tight as any recording could ever be.
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After about an hour or so, De Backer got on the mike and said he'd be welcoming Givers girl Tiff Lamson to the stage to help him with the next song. "Does this sound familiar?" he asked, banging out a funky rhythm on his electronic gear. "How about this?" he said, adding a new line. Then the melody came in and it was over, everyone jumped to their feet, screaming.
Everyone sang along to the words of Gotye's superfamiliar single. This being Da Backer's most difficult song to sing, he concentrated deeply, singing into the mike with his eyes closed, reaching for the chorus's trademark high notes. When the song ended, he invited everyone to get up close and crowd around the stage, which a bunch of screaming girls did with no hesitation.
Gotye and his band kept the energy high for the rest of the performance, coming out to do a three-song encore before all was said and done. He led the crowd in sing-alongs, even occasionally erupting into uninstructed clap-a-thons. When the house lights finally burned back on at about 10:30 p.m., it was the end of an early night in Miami. But everyone had been blessed with more true musicianship than any seven-hour party in any dark club could ever offer.