You never know what to expect from the late show at The Knitting Factory on a Saturday night. The lighting was dim in the room, as people slowly gathered around the bar to get their pre-show drinks. I found a little spot to stand, right next to the stage, thinking I was pretty lucky to have snagged it early on. Seoul entered the stage, and took their instruments. The lights on stage maintained a heavy blue hue for the duration of their set, which seemed fitting for their musical content. They aim to produce a “sonic experience,” and that’s exactly what they did.

Seoul opened the show with an electronic, synthesized sound that reverberated through the walls of the room. The sound carried on as the drummer did multiple crescendos on the cymbals with mallets, rather than sticks, elevating a certain dreamlike feeling. Each instrument was used to be an addition to that feeling, rather than as a means to drive any kind of rhythm. The crowd was attentive, allowing the ambiance in the music to take over the room. The vocals sounded subtly distant, which also perpetuated the synthetic sample. The crowd got excited as the reverberated sound transitioned into their popular song “The Line.” The melody picked up at that moment, and the audience began to sway along to the music. All three singers participate in the soothing, gentle harmonies. The harmonies added a beautifully hypnotizing aspect to their full sound. They recreated a lot of the synthetic elements on their recordings with their instruments as they performed live, which was really cool to listen to, being familiar with their recorded tracks. “Stay With Us” was an obvious favorite of the night. The simple, yet catchy bass line provided the backbone to the song, as a true trance-like feeling began to take over the room. The airy and breathy vocals were mesmerizing, as I found myself closing my eyes to keep the dream going.

The one issue I had with Seoul’s set had absolutely nothing to do with them. After the first half of the set, the audience began to be very loud; and not in the way that you want. Suddenly, the room felt more like a bar scene, with the music being secondary.  Normally, this would be okay with me, as it’s a pretty normal thing to do to grab a drink and talk with a few friends at an indie show. With Seoul, their music and the feeling they radiate relies heavily on the nuances within the ambiance. Besides being a little quieter and more subdued than most other live shows, in ambient music, the artist aims to create an atmosphere to be in, rather than a recurring melody or rhythm to get used to. Seoul was doing a wonderful job creating that atmosphere, but the audience wasn’t respecting that space. The crowd treated this show like any other rock show that could be talked through, but they weren’t allowing themselves to be completely immersed in what was being created on stage. They weren’t allowing others around them to immerse themselves in the atmosphere either, which is a huge shame. I’d recommend that anyone who is a fan of Seoul or any other artist on the ambient side of music, to go into the show with an open mind and with the knowledge that they offer a really special kind of experience if you allow it to happen. Seoul did a wonderful job performing, and I hope to see them again in a different setting.

Ballet School took the stage next. While there were several reverberant synthetic moments, the rest of their set changed the pace of the room entirely. They kicked off their set with “Heartbeat Overdrive,” which had a catchy and upbeat melody to dance to. The lead singer, Rosie, was fun and energized as she used every inch of the stage to dance freely. The lights were no longer a calming blue hue, but were now flashing and multi-colored, which was a much more suitable environment for Ballet School’s vibe. The drummer was electronically triggering bass lines as he delivered some extremely tight and wonderfully funky beats. The guitarist used his pedals to produce an electrified tone to accompany the strong bass and drums. Rosie’s vocals are unlike anything I have ever heard. She has quite a big range, and managed to riff in an almost operatic way. The standout moment of their set was the performance of the song “Yaoi.” All three performers displayed high energy, as the driving drums created a more electronic rock vibe. The chorus demanded “call me by my name,” and at the very end, Rosie shouted out “Louis, Michel, Rosie!” It was a cool moment, and a great way to really introduce themselves to the audience. As Ballet School finished off their set with “Cherish,” they let that electronic reverb ring out one last time for the evening.


Article by: Alex Feigin



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