While I was comfortably sitting at home last Wednesday, a FB post that appeared on my timeline noted that Ambassadeurs was to support Danny Brown at the Haunt in less than an hour. It was raining terribly and I was incredibly tired but I had been dying to see this kid for some time now. So I got dressed again, put on a raincoat and made my way to the venue.
When I first came to Brighton, I was surprised by the sheer amount of musical talent, with Mark Dobson being at the forefront amongst the breed (see previous post for another example). Having his roots in dubstep, he mixes hip-hop and electronica masterfully. Think a less playful Flume, the moniker of another crazy talented 21 year-old producer Harley Streten. I was quite taken with some of his tracks, although less of a fan of some others…
Unfortunately, I was not very impressed with his live show either. Truth be told, it’s always tricky for a solo guy to go beyond being a nerd behind a laptop, turning some knobs with his head down. I have seen the likes of Seems, Tourist, Lindstrom, John Talabot, TEED and countless others and it is a tough effort even for the best of producers. It’s not like you have a guitar that you can smash onstage, there’s so much you can do with a laptop. I am still not quite sure what it takes, although a bit of singing, a bit of actual live synth playing or a costume (!) -(TEED anyone?) always helps.
In Ambassadeurs’ case, it is perhaps a personal thing. Firstly, he had a pre-dominantly male dubstep/hip-hop crowd, all clad in caps and hoodies. I felt a little uncomfortable being one of the handful of girls in the flood of boys under 25. But to be fair, he was the support so you never know if it was his audience. Secondly, I like him best when he is closest to the more dancy and electronic stuff. You wouldn’t know if you haven’t heard some of the tracks that he hasn’t put out yet and I’m not sure if I should be giving names. I had the pleasure of hearing some of the tunes that are not on his Soundcloud page and hoped he would play one or two. He didn’t. It felt like a dubstep gig in a warehouse at times and a hiphop gig sans an MC at others -which became a bit overwhelming for me after a while. I asked around and got similar comments from the people who have previously seen him. Of course, it all comes down to what he wants to be at the end of the day. No musician should tailor his sound to the tastes of a particular audience and do what he/she likes (there are people out there who most embarrassingly change their path for a label or worse, so much as a music mag).
All in all, his half hour set was not bad at all, but it wasn’t magical either. He needs to step up for the bigger leagues he is aiming for and I am confident he will ease into better live shows soon.