After a brief spell that seemed to promise that spring would come earlier this year, I found myself shivering my tail off in Williamsburg, willing the line ahead of me to move faster. I was woefully unprepared for the cold snap that had come out of nowhere, and it seems, to what the night had in store for me in general.
You see, up until about two days prior, I had never even really listened to Absofacto
or Two Feet
, yet here I was preparing to catch them live for the first time with the intention of covering the Brooklyn stop of their nationwide tour together. Sure, I had given them both the once over and caught up on a couple of their top hits, but like my threadbare sweater, my preparations would fall short of the reality I would meet.
There's an oft-repeated adage that the only way to truly judge an artist is to see, or at the very least listen, to them live. While I don't particularly like to buy into popular clichés, I do have to say the statement holds some weight, and did that Friday night, especially for Absofacto. That's not to say that Absofacto, the indie-pop-rock project of songwriter Jonathan Visger, doesn't have any good recordings, it's just that musicians, like ogres and onions, have layers. Layers that you can't fully appreciate during a rushed listening session the day before through a pair of Macbook speakers (sorry, ghost of Steve Jobs, but those will always be your major weakness). And while I did have the privilege to catch them while they were in studio for an upcoming Baeble NEXT Session (which you'll get to feast your ears on soon), I spent most of the time with headphones on trying to work on a review for the new Tinashe single (don't tell me this job doesn't have its struggles).
What I'm trying to say with all of this is that up until this point I had yet to give Absofacto my full and undivided attention, and that was about to change. For an opener, they certainly weren't received by the crowd as just the band that stood between the audience and the artist they were really there to see. In fact, at the end of the night it was hard to tell who was there for Absofacto and who was there for Two Feet, but it seemed like most people were as invested in one as they were the other. In the hushed and intimate ambiance of the venue's tight space, tracks such as "Dissolve" and "Endless Summer" were allowed to fully unfurl themselves in a way prohibited by digital recordings, taking on new life being felt as much as they were heard by those in attendance. It was a near perfect performance, with the only con being an audience member who didn't know how to let a joke die (screaming "encore!" after the first song is funny, screaming it after every song kind of diminishes the value of the joke).
Either way, Absofacto's set was over before I had even really registered it, which in my book is a quality strength. Far too many artists these days don't know when enough is enough, and Absofacto's brief set left me satisfied, but desperately wanting more. Tease them with a little, then pull it back before people get sick of it, that is how you get an audience to keep coming back.
Two Feet took the reins from there, and while I had an idea of what I was in for, once again my expectations came up short against reality. Though he's flown under my radar, Two Feet, the alias of Bill Dess, he has accumulated himself somewhat of a cult following, and I'm struggling to find the proper comparison or analogy for him. With no lack of skill, presence or sex appeal, Two Feet took the stage to a reception akin to something like Beatlemania. I might have been the crotchety old fart who didn't know who he was, but something told me that the hundreds of adoring fans screaming themselves hoarse did.
As I mentioned, Dess knows how to command a stage, and most importantly, how to command attention. Eschewing the brashness and bombacity that one normally associates with rock stars, Two Feet instead leaned on his smooth musical stylings, a blend of jazz, rock and pop elements that remarkably does so much with so little. With a minimalist's approach Two Feet dominated the stage through a sensual and impassioned performance, drawing cheers and adoration from a crowd that recognized which track he was playing before the first chords had even finished reverberating through the venue.
It's always a pleasant surprise when you go into a situation not knowing what to expect, yet still walking away satisfied. So whether you're a fan old or new, or a novice to what Absofacto and Two Feet are all about like I was, the two are must listens, and should certainly be on your radar for the future.