Willis Earl Beal. What a voice, what a look, what a set. I'd listened to a couple of sneaky creaky tracks of his on le Spotify to see if he was worth seeing before SBTRKT at the Paradise last night. Instantly intrigued. Lo-fi blues before dubstep? Curiouser and curiouser. So I jumped down the rabbit hole.
Recording cannot do Mr. Willis Earl Beal's vein-popping vocals justice. Toothpick in mouth, a grim smiley face and the word "NOBODY" emblazoned on his tight white T-shirt, this guy has his image down as a neo-Greaser gone haywire. And you know what? It really worked.
I was transported through a wormhole from the 1950s to 2012 when SBTRKT hit the stage, bass vibe pounding in my chest and soulful singing carving out my heart. Having just listened to the raw sounds of Willis Earl Beal just before, the bluesy/soul elements of SBTRKT are totally highlighted. It's not just dubstep; yes, it's electronic, and some of their tracks are certainly deep house, but once they start hittin the drum set and the sound smooths ooze out it's just about closing your eyes and seeing the lights flash on your lids. Who cares about defining genres when the end result is a kickass live show? [Insert the-importance-of-genre-theory comment here].
Drum set. Cowbell. Tom-tom drum. Computers. Masks. THEREMIN. Mhmm.
Go see SBTRKT live. These recordings below don't do their energy justice. Plus, they did a 30min encore. Thanks, guys.
SBTRKT "Wilfire" (probably their most recognizable)
SBTRKT "Hold On" Live:
SBTRKT Essential Mix:
Willis Earl Beal. You must see him live. This Chicago-based artist's new album "Acousmatic Sorcery" just came out, so give it a listen.