Hidden Agenda Presents : Selebrities & Slow Magic at The Grand Social – In Review
(support from Tandem Felix who I missed. Chagrin.)
Selebrities - an American three-piece who personify the 80s ‘revival’. They are synthy and noisy, and atmospheric samples hover and billow behind the vocal lines – that are delivered with a deadpan, detached nonchalance – it all sounds very promising. But Friday night’s gig in the Grand Social, though enjoyable, was a tale of many and often converse opinions. Songs such as ‘When I Look at You’ or the recently released ‘Night Heat‘ were winners, with deep bassy synth sounds that verge towards ominous, lovely slow booming drum lines (despite being delivered on an electronic drumkit) and constant breathy, panted vocals. But their set, for me, was littered with all too apparent ‘references’ of 80′s pop gems – including Joey Scarsbury’s ‘Believe It or Not’, Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Hungry Heart’ and basically anything New Order ever produced. For me, the points of reference were all too visible, and my constant brain-scanning for the what-song-does-that-song-sound-like distracted and detracted from the set. Forewarned, and if you can set such music-nerd tendencies aside, Selebrities are a good live show – one worth catching alongside their tour partner, Slow Magic.
Walking back into the ‘Loft’ of the Grand Social for the headline act on Friday night – Slow Magic– I was instantly transfixed. Standing onstage behind an Apple Mac and a massive floor tom, face hidden behind a multicolored foxes head mask, the man that is Slow Magic – or our ‘unknown imaginary friend’ – was visually bewitching, and the thick bass sounds reverberating through my entire body, deliciously tangible. Immersed in each dreamy, electronic soundscape were gorgeous keynote melodies, be they piano compositions (Sorry Safari) or delicious synth additions (Feel Flows) or a haunting vocal sample. All accompanied by the thrashing of ever-snapping drumsticks on the sole floor tom, I actually couldn’t take my eyes the man behind the mask (or should that be the mask hiding the man?). Coupled with the stunning visuals provided by Feel Good Lost, the entire set was great, though it made me lament the rather unspectacular turn out in the Grand Social on this particular Friday for such a notable act.
Feel Good Lost (Visuals)
Admittedly, I have been a fan of Feel Good Lost‘s work for quite a while now – the work they have produced for acts such as Sacred Animals v. Owensie (Cat & Mouse), Mmoths (Summer &Thnx) and most recently, Slow Magic (Corvette Cassette) – but streaming onto and behind a live act, the visuals by Cork team Brendan Canty and Conal Thompson come into their own. There is an otherworldly feel to their work, a concentration on filming natural or seemingly unremarkable things, and through clever and beautiful editing and post-production, elevating these things to something very special. Friday’s show was the perfect accompaniment to both acts, but Slow Magic’s set in particular, the shadowed relief of his masked drumming cutting dark slices through the visual projections. Gorgeous.
Sarah O’ Neill