Show Review: Active Child @ The Mohawk (5/4)
It was way too hot for early May as The Mohawk played host to Active Child with Superhumanoids and Balam Acab opening. RayRay insisted I would be surprised by the live set. After a few beers at Easy Tiger, we wandered up Red River half-jokingly singing clips from You Are All I See. What would an Active Shild cover of “Cumbersome” sound like?
Anyway, click through. I have plenty of pics and a few more show notes…
Coming off of the FT5, seeing so many people watch the the show through the screen of their phones was frustrating. I lined up portraits at the beginning of each set only to have the one person that could ruin it pop their phone up to get video or snap a pic. They then would post it, send it, tweet it, whatever, ignoring the stage for five minutes. People, relax. We have you covered.
Superhumanoids have been a favorite of mine for a while now and they did not disappoint. The early thin crowd was quickly won over with jams like “Jeri” and “Mikelah”. They were thankful for all that came out early. This set far exceeded what I saw during SxSW.
To the tour management for Active Child, shuffle the line up. Superhumanoids makes far more sense as the middle slot. It’s not that Balam Acab is not good; Alec Koone’s set checked many of the boxes that I love about electronic music with nice layering, subtle samples and just enough variation between songs to maintain interest. But no matter the music, one guy, several sequencers, Macbook and an 808 do not captivate, especially on an outdoor stage with static lighting.
Active Child took to the stage, extra up-lighting and Aphrodite garden statues in place for effect. Starting at the harp, Pat Grossi uses the instrument to draw you in. The progressions, the sustain, slight effects added, it all adds up to an engaging sound. It is not the best stage presence to be sitting behind a harp, but the crowd is immediately enchanted anyway. Pat’s vocal is also perfect. Trained by singing in choirs through his youth, there is power in the falsettos that is rarely matched by anyone in our landscape. This is high praise. Deservedly high.
Did I mention they had fricking lasers? And a fog machine, which for an outdoor stage loses a bit of its effectiveness. Periodic heavy blasts (nice work, Josh) added atmosphere, but the mood was quickly removed by the warm south wind.
The crowd, when not taking pics with their phones, sang every word. Couples held hands, but it was at times misplaced as many of the songs are about heartbreak. “Hanging On” was stunning, as was “You Are All I see”. Pat effectively handled vocal duties of the more R&B-styled portions of “Playing House” done by How to Dress Well on the album.
The show left my up-to-now-apathetic-towards-Active-Child wife a fan. The live set highlights the band’s talents, well beyond the recording. If you are on the fence about Active Child, go to a show.
There are a few more pics at the photo site…