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Tuesday, December 12

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Review Mon May 06 2013

Review: James Blake @ Metro 5/2

When James Blake stepped onstage Thursday evening, the energy at the Metro immediately changed. A hush fell over the crowd, as if an idol had just appeared to a group of loyal followers, watching, waiting, for the first evidence of their deity to speak. I honestly had no idea what to expect as I wandered over to the venue, but I can admit I was a tad worried that James Blake's effortless, stripped down numbers would have their purity distorted by bass effects and the cheers of adoring fans. Luckily, Blake had crafted his show with a precision so exact that his purest numbers were not washed out by bass-splitting, light show dance parties. Those two categories filtered into musical moments, though starkly different, worked in harmony together throughout the show, which allowed us to see that he has only matured and honed his craft from the onset of his debut album spanning to his most recent release, Overgrown.


The sold out show began with "Air & Lack Thereof," which transformed the Metro from a relaxed venue, into a dubstep style, beat-heavy atmosphere. The psychadelic beats emerging from the speakers were rattling the structure, almost menacing and overwhelming at first, and the crowd couldn't help but sway along in a hypnotic fashion. James Blake curated the show with ease, as if each song were a piece of art specially fashioned and matriculated for this Chicago audience to take part in and experience.

"I Never Learnt To Share" ushered in an almost manic atmosphere over the crowd, and with each outcry of "my brother and my sister," doting fans squealed louder and louder as each line heightened the song's intensity and anticipation for what was to come. Each layer built and capped to a frenetic, fuzzy instrumental interlude. His vocal range became even more charismatic in person, as I never heard one sour note or any departure from a perfect rhythmic sequence. One personal highlight, "CMYK," allowed the crowd to morph from hushed and watchful into a full on dance party, as "I found her, red coat" combined with a light show and pulsating beats to get even the most unenthused member of any audience grooving akin to those in the front row, jumping and thrashing about the entire duration of the song.

Blake made sure to honor the dichotomy of his music throughout the concert's span; emotion-laden, refined ballads such as "Our Love Comes Back" were juxtaposed against mesmerizing, beat-centric jams a la "Digital Lion." Though he remained stationary, huddled over his piano for the majority of the set, the full-bodied sound that emerged was anything but stagnant. The set spanned each of his full-length albums and EPs, showing his immense growth as an artist over time. Tracks showcasing his affinity for the unique production of music, epic "Klavierwerke," stood alongside simple, breathtaking numbers such as his take on Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You," which was one of his encore tracks. Blake showed his eager-to-listen fans that he would be sticking around for a while, further cultivating his sound, and invited them on the journey to wherever his sound will take him next.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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