How To Dress Well
@ Soda Bar in San Diego, CA.
The thing about this show is that before it was booked I was actually asked by someone about how I thought the show would do and I checked the last.fm page- saw 3.5 million plays and basically opined that the show would do well- sell-out even. How To Dress Well (which is Tom Krell and whomever he taps to tour with) scored back to back Best New Music nods for his first two records. If you can show me another Artist who has done that- please- leave a comment, because I can't think of one.
But actually if you compare the two Best New Music picks with his number of Last.fm plays, the number of plays is actually pretty low- compared to other Artists who have gotten BNM for a first record. Two Artists in the immediate vicinity of How To Dress Well- Grimes (9.7 million plays) and Purity Ring (4.1 million plays) have garnered a larger Audience with fewer records.
Comparing the Pitchfork success with the last fm profile size would seem to support the conclusion that the Audience for popular music does not like How To Dress Well as much as the music reviewers at Pitchfork.
The Audience size for last nights show was good for a 12/15 price point on a Sunday night, but nothing close to a sell out- as I thought well might be the case when I was originally asked how I thought this show might do.
The Audience composition last night was def. "FANS OF HOW TO DRESS WELL." with a smattering of local regulars. Opening act Beacon impressed the booth invading college students who were near by me during the set. They are a two piece- with one guy handling the beats and the other guy singing 90s r&b style. The live element was non existent, whether by design or from lack of experience I don't know. I thought Beacon has the ingredients to be a viable act but it will come through a full length record rather then a strong live show presence.
In between sets I heard that the Grimes show at Porters PUB was sold out, that the XX show at the Hollywood cemetery was a real good time and that the Purity Ring concert at UCSD last year was also a really good time. I was thinking about the recent Skrillex concert I had gone to and the difference between an Artist like Skrillex who draws 20k people to an outdoor shed in Chula Vista, vs. a more serious, but still electronically based, Artist like How To Dress Well who struggles to draw 100 people to a Sunday night show in a top 20 US Market after two Best New Music awards.
Obviously, the difference can most easily be expressed in terms of popularity. And I suppose it equally easy to say that How To Dress Well is closer to "serious" Art and Skrillex is meaningless pop trash. BUT- if you actually listen to both acts, they share many more similarities then differences because they are both rooted in the shared universe of electronic dance music.
When you are dealing with an Artist who is also a graduate student in philosophy, whether it be John Maus or Tom Krell, it's worth asking whether the music achieves some kind of impact that extends beyond meaningless fun. Personally, I feel that intelligent/meaningul IDM occupies the same spot as "conscious" hip-hop: the critics may love it but you will have no gold records on the wall. I'm sure Tom Krell has thought it over and decided that the world of Skrillex is something he'd best avoid- but there is no reason he couldn't compete in that arena if he wanted to- instead of playing to 90+ 20 year olds on a Sunday night in San Diego.
Go for Ibiza, is what I'm saying. Forget the US indie rock club touring circuit, it don't pay.