Matthew Dear, The Rhythm Room, 10/29/12
Matthew Dear @ Rhythm Room
Part of the reason you see musicians live is to experience their craft firsthand. Like a zoo or the ocean, secondhand exposure just doesn't cut it -- you need to see it for yourself. I went into Matthew Dear's show not knowing what to expect: he adopts assorted personas and explores many genres.
Because I'm susceptible to my own history, I most closely related Matthew Dear to Interpol. There are plenty of comparisons, starting with once touring together, the baritone vocals, similar guitar layering, the slick GQ look, the ambiguous lyrics. Interpol has been a band I've adored since age 15 and their obscure lyrics lent heavily to my own personal interpretations. The songs never changed, but the meanings did often as I grew up.
See also: Matthew Dear Discusses Liberation
Yet, when I saw Interpol in Amsterdam, they were, in a word, boring. The songs were played exactly like on their records, without any deconstruction, they mostly stood still or glanced at the ceiling, no one danced along and I wondered what I was doing there if I could just close my eyes and relive a CD quality recital.
Matthew Dear was quite the opposite. He started the show with a weird vocal thing where he recorded nonsense words, then started sampling himself as his two drummers took position and blasted into an experimental, weird performance. This isn't something you get through an MP3. Not even close.
Dear had brilliant stage presence, spasming all over the place. And he had complete control over the direction he was taking everyone, but never let on where he was going. When songs stretched into static landscapes with drones and whirrs, the crowd grew motionless, but Dear would always bring everyone back from their daze.
When he announced, "I'm Matthew Dear and we're here to have fun," you could tell he meant it. And he blew into "Earthforms" with energy and precision, evoking as much Joy Division as LCD Soundsystem. It carried into "Get The Rhyme Right" and "Headcage."
"You're all beautiful." Dear was a terrible flatterer and we still loved it. "This is the most fun I've had on a Monday night in a long time," Dear smiled. There were plenty of energetic dancers, including a girl who acted like she was sorting laundry and a guy with waggling fingers who whipped them back and forth near his ears. Paul Banks take note, This is what it's all about, guys!
But Dear wasn't just there to party. Bouquets of white roses were lashed to the microphones and Dear would periodically peel them apart. When "Temptation" ended, Dear told the crowd, "That last song was my most honest and this next one is my scariest."