In his first non-festival set in over five years, Beck wasted no time in getting right down to it. Tonight was all about the groove. Describing it as his psychedelic Michael Jackson, the infectious dance throbs of Colors were heavily prominent tonight, and people got out of their seats and danced all night, including one woman who tried to boogie her way down the aisle to the stage, only to stared down by a venue security person and slowly backed to whence she came. OK, so I guess there were some people who were immune to the dance party, but not many. Maybe Mr. Hansen was trying to channel the Gloved One, and he did wear a single Red Sox batting glove later on in the show, but to me there were also more than a few traces of other sounds going on. The title track sounded like a mid-80s Duran Duran hit, whereas “Dreams” wouldn’t be out of place on a new Tame Impala record and there to be more than a sub-conscious nod to Daft Punk with “Up All Night,” right?
But pay no mind – Beck’s been plundering a wide range of influences for decades while remaining his own person. Hip-hop, Appalachian blues, noise, understated psych – you name it, Beck’s got a handful of songs in any particular style and I never thought I’d see “Debra” done up in full acoustic folk combo mode. He’d go into Guero pretty heavily tonight and was pretty liberal with all his records but Modern Guilt and the not-the-right-mood downer of Sea Change, even playing “Strange Apparition” from The Information; does anyone even remember that record? After the obligatory “Loser,” which still sports some amazing lines (cocaine nose job, anyone?), the encore would continue in the vein of swerving all over the map. After the crowd pleaser of “Where It’s At” that included a bit of robot break dancing, he introduced his seven piece band interwoven between a totally sprawling medley that would bounce between new wave hits (“In Between Days,” “Blue Monday”), some disco (“Good Times,” “Miss You”) to TV themes (“Three’s Company”) and not stopping until Talking Heads (“Once In A Lifetime”) and Phil Collins (“In The Air Tonight”) brought the crazy string to a halt. Beck knows how to have fun, and his audience would agree that it’s pretty infectious.
Locals done good Vundabar would take the stage first tonight, and their brand of garage rock was fun to watch; singer/guitarist Brandon Hagen strutted around the stage like an angular scarecrow, sometimes with hat on and sometimes hatless, while drummer Drew McDonald made a dizzying array of goofy faces. They take their music seriously though, and were impressively tight and brawny. Smell Smoke just came out a few months ago and is worth a listen or three.
Photos from the show:
Created with flickr slideshow.