SAT’s concert hall was in darkness, when a cloud of mist danced on to the stage and foggy silhouettes softly projected on to the backscreen. Forest Swords, stage name of Matthew Barnes, with the help of bassist, James Binary, emerged out of nowhere, and greeted the audience with an ominous beat from his laptop.
Performing mostly tracks off debut album “Engravings”, Forest Swords played with as much intensity as if it were the first time showcasing his talent. The video projections continued throughout, perfectly completing the atmosphere with dark forest and river scenes flowing into and out of water-drop patterns. With every loop added and every layer mixed in, it was clear the show was taking over the artists on stage, and with the mist of fog rolling over the crowd as well, the trance overcame everyone there. The mysterious multisensory experience kept all in its grasp until the two men had completely vanished off stage again and the lights turned back on.
Next up, headlining German-based New Yorker Tom Krell, aka How To Dress Well had a lot to live up to. Opening his set with the opener of his last album, “When I Was In Trouble”, he initially managed to catch the crowd’s full attention with soulful falsetto vocals over the minimalistic rnb instrumentals provided by his touring band (which included Broken Social Scene drummer Justin Peroff).
Highlights included “& it was you” and an incredibly touching “Suicide Dream 1-3”, dedicated to Krell’s late friend, however overall the audience seemed to lose interest pretty quickly. Maybe it was the stark contrast to Forest Swords, but despite powerful tracks, his show seemed to lack substance throughout. Only by the encore, when he returned alone to sing “Lullaby” and “Set It Right”, did the crowd regain some of their responsive energy and appreciate the music for what it was. While having some difficulty in breaking the barrier between stage and floor, How To Dress Well should not be dismissed for his beautiful voice and the interesting arrangements he has produced.
How To Dress Well is releasing a new LP soon sometime this summer, he will hopefully seize this opportunity to use his talent to give body to some fresh ideas!
How To Dress Well.
All photography by Negar Nakhai. All rights reserved.