Yesterday evening, whilst some of the team went down to ol’ PinBoard favourites, Eletric Wire Hustle on one side of town, I headed down to East London’s coolest venue of the day, XOYO to witness how How To Dress Well would portray his unique ethereal pop/R&B live.
I was somewhat apprehensive since in the last few weeks that I have found out about HTDW, I have been intrigued by his sound, even those times when it was an awkward listen. But as I walked into the venue, I still knew very little about the man. To ease me into the unknown, I was happy to see Holy Other was the opening act. I posted up his EP at the backend of last month, which after a few solitaire listens, I started to enjoy the emo’ness that was taking over my body courtesy of his intense mystique.
When the cloaked unknown producer came on, although I liked the tracks I was aware of and some of the fresher ones too, the new experience made up of a large group of people, all caught up in one hypnotic sway was definitely erring on the best side of depressing. Nonetheless a perfectly awkward opening act, for a even more curious headliner. Tom Krell, better known as HTDW came on stage initially thanking all in the packed room. Told us how he just got from Barcelona and he felt sick. Gotta love the honesty.
Not knowing much about HTDW, other than his distinctive voice, I enjoyed the set and it seemed the crowd did too, performing new songs and mixing them with previous releases like ‘Sucicide Dreams 2’ and his Transparent release ‘Take It On’ where there were definitely moments of Justin Timberlake’ness sprinkled in for good measure. As he scattered between high pitched vocal and Mika-like sounds, whilst pulling his jumper with childlike tendencies, there was a freedom in all that HTDW was doing – it was all imperfect to the mainstream eye, yet for me, it was uncomfortably acceptable. That is what kept me watching. From the folkey acapella which suddenly had a fighting falsetto harmony section, to the three minutes which HTDW intensely stared at a projection playing a haunting (to say the least) montage, then rapidly leaving the stage. All out of the norm yet enjoyable to get drawn into.
He performed new songs, such as ‘How Many’ which had a easy on the ear dancey loop, with soothful harmonies kicking in midway. I also enjoyed what he described as his ‘Eurovision entry – possibly?’ ‘Happy’. The track possessed a massive thumping bass, rave sirens and a complete fall to floor that could only make you dance. All this alongside his nu-R&B flavour is all the more reason why HTDW will be closely watched by us PinBard lot for a while.