Gotye, Kimbra rock Eastern's Pease Auditorium

Originally Published  April 4, 2012 in The Eastern Echo

I tried really hard to come up with a catchy summation for my feelings about Australian indie rocker Gotye and alternative soul artist Kimbra’s Eastern Michigan University debut at Pease Auditorium, but just couldn’t. For that reason, I’m going to let fifth-year senior Britney Wynn say it
for me.

“…She was very beautiful. She could sing her [expletive] off. That dress was amazing. She should be a star.”

The “she” Wynn referred to was Kimbra, who opened the show and stole my heart. That is saying a lot, considering Gotye put on a stunning show in his own right.

I’m not sure if it was the architectural, ruffled powder blue mini-dress, miles of leg, gallons of energy, the haunting shadow her slender silhouette cast over the walls of the auditorium, or the fact that she covered Nina Simone’s classic song “Plain Gold Ring,” but I’m in love.

To begin her performance, the quirky, raven-haired songstress jumped right in to a quintet of high energy songs from her 2011 album “Vows.” Before she’d finished her first song, the crowd, who’d mainly come to see Gotye, was on its feet dancing along.

After the first four songs, she slowed things down with the aforementioned Nina Simone cover.

Although I’m not a fan of Simone’s work, I was struck by the choice to cover “Ring” and floored by Kimbra’s vocals.

Bringing the pace back up, she seamlessly transitioned into the highly rhythmic, Caribbean-inspired song “Limbo.”

She ended her set with signature high energy performances of “Cameo Lover,” “Settle Down,” and an unreleased song entitled “Come into my Head.”

Although I got up out of my chair and danced in a way I’m pretty sure is illegal in some states during the last three songs of her set, I wished she lingered over those songs.

Being her biggest hit outside of the Gotye duet “Somebody That I Used to Know,” I feel like a bit more spectacle could have sent her performance over the edge she’d been hurdling toward since she burst onto the stage.

Once Kimbra took her leave, the lights came up for a short intermission while crew members set up for the main event.

Gotye was all sorts of hipster chic as he casually strolled onto the stage wearing a muted grey vintage tee, skinny jeans and what I can only assume were classic Van’s slip-ons. Not exactly what comes to mind when I think “world-wide musical phenomenon,” but after by the mind-warping, psychedelic performance he gave, I might have to rethink that.

Without more than a quick wave to the thundering crowd, he began his set. Being familiar with his music before the show, I expected the music to come screaming in like a stampeding elephant. What I didn’t expect was to be thrust into a live interpretation of Pink Floyd’s seminal psychedelic rock epic “The Wall.”

The moment the music started, so did a wild set of visceral, abstract visuals. The first two songs plowed along with only some colored smoke-looped visuals. But when the third song “Easy Way Out” started up, things took a turn for the macabre with a blood-red tinted “Akira” inspired anime-style scene.

Between the fourth and fifth song, Gotye gave a shout out to some people he’d met before the show: “This one goes out to our new Frisbee friends.”

Having watched the group of guys throw around their yellow Frisbee only a few hours earlier as I stood in queue waiting for the doors of Pease to open, I was immediately embarrassed I hadn’t realized the singer was among them.

Without a doubt, the best visuals of the night came from the fifth song “State of the Art,” a dreamy Caribbean-inspired number. The video features a retro, 1950’s art style and a storyline starting with an unassuming family receiving a mysterious box containing a funky but haunted electric piano. As the clip progresses, the family meets a metallic, robotic fate and is transported to a different planet in the crazy, haunted piano turned house-destroying, human-eating spaceship.

The vintage art style progressed a decade to the 1960’s for the next song, “Thanks For Your Time.” The crazy pop-art style and funky beat was a welcomed switch-up for the singer.

When the classic French-style intro to song eight – “Somebody That I Used to Know” – came twiddling in, the crowd burst into applause. For her verse, Kimbra joined Gotye on stage wearing a sparkly black mini-dress and killer black leather heels. Like what it’s done to record charts around the world for months, it flattened the crowd and applause rained in.

From there, his set progressed through three more songs with ever-changing visuals, including the eleventh song “Bronte,” which reminded me a classically animated Gorillaz music video.

After “Bronte,” the singer set down his sticks and walked off stage for a quick break. For the entire duration of the four minute siesta, the crowd never stopped cheering.

Once he returned to the stage he decided to “pick up the pace for these next couple of songs.”

He ended the show with two songs, both Motown-influenced, according to the singer. The first featured wild, replicating cacti visuals and a heavy baseline that had me and a majority of the crowd dancing. The second was a classic Motown-style track, accompanied by nothing more than projections of stained glass floating on the walls of the auditorium.

After the last note was played, Gotye and his band gave a bow to the crowd and left the stage.

While I was busy getting other people’s opinions on the show, both Kimbra and Gotye were out signing autographs and meeting with fans.

While I feel Kimbra stole the show with her infectious music and high energy performance, Gotye still gave the crowd a show worth remembering.

To check out some of the crazy visuals from the show, check out Gotye’s YouTube page.

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