What's this I'm hearing? Bass at Schubas? And who is this sleazy lounge singer that's taken over the place?
Download: Sebastien Tellier - "Roche"
When I think of live electronic music, Schubas is certainly not the first place that comes to mind in Chicago, so it was a nice change of pace when quirky French artist Sébastien Tellier took the stage last week in a headlining performance. Not only was it amusing to hear some straight up French disco sounds in a space I typically associate with alt-country and local indie rock acts, it was even more intriguing to hear an electronic artist backed up by a real band.
Touring in support of his latest album, Sexuality, a purely electronic pop effort produced by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk, Tellier could've very easily just showed up with a microphone and a laptop and on the surface the songs would've sounded pretty much the same. However, thankfully he opted for a full supporting band that included a live drummer and two keyboardists each armed with tall racks of real analog synthesizers. Tellier himself provided lead guitar and later switched over to electric piano for a few tracks. Rather than the canned approximation that a more minimalist set-up would've produced, the full intstrumentation brought that warm sound and energy that you can only get from a live performance.
Despite conveying a charmingly drunk and aloof persona talking to the crowd in between songs, Tellier was all business once the music started. Seeing him stumble and mumble on stage, one might expect some wavering vocals and sloppy guitar playing, but this wasn't the case at all. Tellier and his band were one tight outfit that proved that electronic music, when done right, can sound just as great live as its acoustic counterpart.
Oh, and one last random thought...speaking of his persona, is it just me or does Tellier look like a bizarre cross between ZZ Top and Scott McCaughey? No? OK, nevermind...