Rhye / Laser The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto ON, December 8
Published Dec 09, 2015Even after two years, Rhye's debut LP, Woman, still has the power to leave a room completely spellbound, trapped in stillness as every word and sultry hook on their groovy, souled-out electronic jams hits you in all the right spots.
Last night (December 8), fans got a taste of a whole new Rhye, with a performance that shatters the walls around the mystique Toronto singer Michael Milosh and Danish producer Robin Hannibal have become known for. In one unforgettable performance, the crowd saw Woman relived through a lens of chaotic beauty much different than the album they fell in love with, along with a few new surprises that lots of fans didn't see coming, but loved every minute of.
The night began early with a packed venue waiting for the show to begin. As Laser took the stage, the band greeted the crowd, some of whom knew members Lisa Lobsinger and Paul Pfisterer from their local indie rock celebrity. Textured synths and crystalline riffs kept their songs lush and spacious in the first half, with Lobsinger's vocals tapping into Fleetwood Mac territory at every turn.
"So Justin Bieber played here last night. I guess that means he opened for us," joked Lobsinger while talking to the crowd about how happy they were to be playing with their old friend Milosh and his band. They kicked things up a gear with "Leaving It Too Late," a single off their forthcoming LP Night Driver. The crowd began to get lost in the swirly atmospherics, but the smooth harmonies and funky electronics came to an end pretty quickly as Laser concluded their short set and the crowd was left to wait anxiously as the stage was set for Rhye to make their long-awaited return.
People got anxious as set times got pushed back and the wait for the band seemed to go longer than expected, but without warning, the room went black and accents of purple and gold light covered the stage as four players took their places. As fans screamed with excitement, a violinist, cellist, drummer, bass player and organ/keyboardist Robin Hannibal's live replacement, Ben Schwier, began playing their instruments. Hi-hats shimmered like stained glass as violin quivered over sombre cello and bass riffs, a brooding introduction that found Milosh peek out of the light to begin with "Verse," receiving a monstrous ovation upon the first few seconds of crooning.
Instead of giving the audience Woman in its original form, Milosh approached each song as though it were brand new, infusing the album's most famous cuts with woozier, psyched-out jazz chords and atmospherics that only refined his androgynous vocal range. "The Fall" started out as the breezy, downtempo soul jam fans in love with, but wonky bass jolts and organ wails slowly liquefied into a flurry of cymbal crashes and a heavy violin solo that took the slick single on an acid jazz power trip that lasted well over six minutes before it subsided.
Each track became more evocative of the romanticism imbued in the album's most poignant moments, all of which came alive as Milosh dug deeper to reveal new shades of each song, most of which the crowd were probably not expecting at all. "Last Dance" retained its thumpy, Balearic bounce, with a heightened synth-pop glitz that had hand claps and sing-alongs in full force as the dance party shifted into more tender soul ballads — songs that Milosh revealed are brand new.
"We're gonna play some things you're not familiar with," teased Milosh after playing a new song that's probably the most true R&B offering he's delivered thus far. His vocals runs and infectious trills had fans silent as they took in the new sounds. Milosh got "Open" with a whispery rendition of the track that once again turned into a mix of sombre chords and hints of funky bass, with the singer getting wild on a snare drum as the entire band brought the house down.
"We have two songs left because that's all I have and I also have bronchitis, so I can't really sing anymore. Thank you so much for coming," said Milosh after introducing his band and ending with "Hunger," a word that could perfectly describe the insatiable crowd after an hour of weirdo orchestral jams, endless grooves and the rebirth of an album that looks to be followed by more greatness as Rhye get ready to drop new music in 2016.