A drum kit, a table with a computer and synthesizers and about 50 excited people, four of which were extremely eager for the show. This was the scene when Chris Laufman, a.k.a. Wise Blood, took the stage this past Saturday night at Glasslands as part of the Northside Festival. Clad in loafers and a baseball hat, he stepped into the crowd to assume frontman duties as his drummer and MIDI manipulator launched into the first song.
This is where the excitement stopped. Wise Blood’s production puts him among the heavy hitters of the genre (Panda Bear comes to mind) and his live musicians killed it. But when a couple fans are more into the show than the performer is, how is the rest of the crowd supposed to get into it? Laufman played with his back to the crowd for the majority of the show, half-heartedly acknowledging the cheers after a song finished. Halfway through the set he looked up to the balcony saying, “I want to be up there with you guys.” Maybe this was a reference to his previous balcony scaling performance, but I couldn’t help think that he meant just that- he would rather be watching a show than performing in one.
Do yourself a favor, get Wise Blood’s EPs, These Wings and `+`, put your headphones on and have a listen. The music is really good, at times verging on great. Laufman’s mishmash sampling and synth work will stick with you. The poppy bliss of Darlin’ You’re Sweet and the gospel, Queen-esque vocal chorale of Loud Mouths will keep you coming back for more. Listen and listen again. Then, once you’ve judged the music on its own, decide if you want to go see a mediocre show to hear the songs live.