Reports from the Dance Floor: Woodkid @ Fonda Theatre (by Griffen Harris)

Woodkid

Let’s keep things simple: Woodkid, born as Yoann Lemoine, performed at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood on October 21. The show brought a large, hip crowd to the venue and there were appearances made by $8 PBR tall boy cans.

Now to focus on the show itself. First, I was most impressed by the lighting as I thought it added a much-needed punch to the show. And, I argue that without the lighting, despite Yoann’s voice being pitch-perfect and the venue’s sound filling the room with ease and clarity, the show would have been extremely lackluster. This is not necessarily a bad thing though….

Here’s the thing about Woodkid – he’s a movie man, a music video maestro, a cinefile, a director, a visioneer. He has gained his level of rapport and success from his work as a director with the likes of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, among others. He didn’t actually start playing music until recently when someone purportedly gave him a banjo on the set of a video he was directing.

So, he’s new to the realm of composition, but his compositions are nonetheless intense and theatrical. They ask a lot of the listener when not accompanied by video and even more of the viewer when played with their videos. But being a visually-oriented musician has its drawbacks in the live performance arena.

Without his theatrical videos that accompany his songs online, the stage’s backdrop of a slow-motion video flying toward ominous pillars alongside the white strobe and tower lighting in an otherwise black room lacked impact. And it wasn’t just the music. The stage presence of the whole group was flat. There was little to none throughout the entire concert, unless you count the moments when Woodkid would finish singing and walk to the back of the stage, stop and stand with his back to the audience staring at the backdrop while his band droned on through melancholic chord progressions. The word that is still at the tip of my tongue when thinking back to the night of the show is “boring.”

In the end, Woodkid has a great voice and great visual accompaniment to his videos online. As a director he has a gift, as a singer he has a gift. As a live performer, his show lacks impact. I wasn’t looking for stage dives and fist pumping; that’s not what his music demands. I was looking for something other than Woodkid standing silent and still with his back to the crowd that paid to see him perform.  Maybe next time…

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