How to Dress Well / Beacon
December 10 Biltmore Cabaret
This night was really a testament to how good pop music can look. New Yorkers, Beacon took to the stage first, getting right into things with what I initially thought was a beautiful vocal sample, only to turn around and find out it was in fact Thomas Mullarney
III, the band’s lead singer. Joining Mullarney was Jacob Gossett, Beacon’s other half playing and impressive swirl of sounds reminiscent of 90s pop, smooth R&B and a fine balance between ambient yet robust synthesizers. It struck me while I was watching them that they were doing something a lot of bands find difficult to achieve, which is have two dudes on stage playing entirely synthesized sounds and not look boring. Perhaps it was the entrancing projections that veiled their set up, but they have something to their live set that provokes you to engage rather than just watch. The same rings true for the man of the hour, Tom Krell whose impressive sophomore effort, Total Loss had Vancouver flocking to hear those sweet sweet falsettos in person.
The quality of bow hairs on steel perked the packed cabaret to attention as a beautiful violin driven interlude stylishly introduced How to Dress Well to the already swooning Vancouver crowd. Krell’s silky voice combated the stark violin to form a stunningly balanced contrast that instantly had everyone with him. That balanced contrast that Krell first presented with his first cut, Suicide Dream is a theme that to me, really makes How to Dress Well’s live set as rich as it is. There’s a delicacy to his sound that through all the live beats and calculated bass tones, still rises to the top. & It Was You was my favourite of the evening. It’s the sort of track that instinctively makes you do that waving finger gesture that Mariah Carey does when she hits the high notes. Touring musicians (Vancouver’s own Cam Reed and Aaron Read) ease into the track with an airy alternative intro while poignant snaps keep the beat. Krell’s lush vocal line slips in immediately putting a hush over the crowd, who have gone in and out of waves of quiet stun and rousing energy. The beats creep in slowly as Reed adds layer upon layer, subtly building a landscape of unabashedly poppy tracks. Even through the controlled cacophony, Krell champions that song with his vocals. The crowd has shaken their initial stupor and are now in the thick of it right there with him. His combination of infectious beats and his signature falsetto have Vancouver completely on Tom Krell’s side… I must say, a sometimes seldom seen sight in our fair city.
The How to Dress Well show was a real exhibition of the unwavering talented that Krell is offering on this tour. Track after track it is obvious that he has a vast musical knowledge and understanding, but it’s that rare ability to amalgamate education with creativity that made that live show so distinctly compelling.