Rhye - Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever - 4/1/13
The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Better than: Most first dates. And also, most second and third dates.
If the glut of modern indie music is the sonic equivalent of a Facebook poke, Rhye is the object of your affection showing up at your doorstep in the rain to tell you how much they love you.
As such, last night's show, presented by KCRW, was an intimate evening in sound and atmosphere, as an attractive crowd assembled in the Masonic Lodge at L.A.'s favorite cemetery concert spot Hollywood Forever. The venue itself, with its dim lighting, pitched ceiling, candelabras, stained glass windows and Masonic motifs, was ideal for absorbing Rhye's stripped down R&B mood music.
The crowd sat for the duration of the show, vibing on Rhye's variably slow and uptempo songs and taking in the group's romance-as-spirituality ethos and singer Mike Milosh's miracle of a voice with hushed reverence.
8:45pm: Outside the venue (in the cemetery), ticketless fans hustle the crowd for any spares, but it's tough going for this much-anticipated show. Inside, the Lodge has the refined feel of an upscale wedding venue, with many glasses of red wine being consumed.
8:50pm: Two man act Rhye has a reputation for not wanting their photo taken. (Most of their press photos feature their faces shrouded in shadow.) Photos at Hollywood Forever shows seem to always be banned. So there you go.
9:00pm: "It was a miracle I got tickets for this show," says an excited woman in line for a bathroom. (They sold out almost immediately after going on sale.) She has brought her mom along as a date. "She says Rhye's singer's voice reminds her of Bronski Beat." Her mom is right.
Don't even think about it.
9:15pm: Low End intellectual Nosaj Thing opens the show with a celestial, cerebral set that begins with the sounds of angels chanting and then builds to an intricately layered wave of sophisticated beats and bass. Nosaj also played before Rhye in January at a Boilerroom show, and although the two acts are perhaps not an obvious double bill, their shared capacity for high level soundscapes make them an inventive and natural pairing.
9:30pm: With the dim red lighting, candlelight and Nosaj's surrealist electronic music, the mood feels like an Anne Rice novel in space. Two guys in the third row are either sleeping or listening to the music with eyes closed appreciation.
9:45pm: Nosaj works in signature jam "Fog" and hovers over his mixer with focused intensity and the agility of an athlete. Anyone who says that electronic artists don't play real instruments would absolutely think otherwise upon seeing the dexterity with which his long fingers manipulate the machine.
9:55pm: The set ends and three people rise for a standing ovation. Two of them are Rhye singer Milosh and his wife, who are sitting in the front row. "To be honest," Nosaj says, "it was a little bit weird playing to everyone sitting down."
10:00pm: The small stage is populated with instruments, a few high backed throne type chairs and three dozen white candles. While Rhye is at its core a duo, Milosh and Danish producer Robin Hannibal, tonight the group is fleshed out as a six-person band featuring a violinist, electric violinist, drummer, singer, bassist and keyboard player. They all assemble onstage and the crowd lets loose a spontaneous cheer as the set is kicked off with a plucked violin solo.
10:05pm: Goosebumps rise with the first note Milosh sings. It's so rare to be excited about a particular voice, but his is smooth and singular and live, as much of an instrument as on the group's recently released debut LP Woman. It's spellbinding singing that oozes meaningful emotion, sounds like Sade and will melt the walls around your heart. "This is going to be a really fun night," he announces. We are officially captivated.
10:15pm: The band is excellent, playing with an impeccable balance of tight musicianship and a sound that still feels loose and improvised, hinting at Milosh's predilection for jazz. The band looks young, and everyone onstage right now is performing with their eyes closed. The violinist has a huge smile on his face.