Soft Metals @ Kilby Court 07.31 with Beachmen, Kyle Luntz

Posted August 5, 2013 in
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Rather than facing the audience, Soft Metals' synths faced each other, perpendicular to those of us in the audience. Photo: Christian Schultz
Portland’s electronic pop duo Soft Metals, after a recent move to L.A., have just released their second full-length album, Lenses, on Brooklyn’s Captured Tracks imprint and have embarked on a massive American tour to support it. They played a short but entrancing set last Wednesday at Kilby Court.

Kyle Luntz opened the show with a short ambient electronic set. Standing behind a suitcase full of effects, Luntz bathed us in lo-fi shoegaze-y psych experimentalism. Luntz set a perfect tone for the evening. Beachmen, who played SLUG Localized last month, followed with a great set of garage pop tunes. A good-sized audience had come out to see these rockers. Their energetic and focused playing certainly entertained their fans, a growing population in Salt Lake, no doubt thanks to such lively performances.

Soft Metals’ Patricia Hall and Ian Hicks began setting up their equipment shortly after Beachmen had taken theirs down. Hall and Hicks had a simple enough arrangement of synths they’d set up in the modest Kilby stage, but the striking simplicity transformed the venue into something I haven’t seen there before. Rather than facing the audience, the synths faced each other, perpendicular to those of us in the audience. With refreshing clarity the two played songs mostly from Lenses. While Hicks, wearing black jeans and a black shirt, focused on creating their retro synth sound, Hall, in a black crop top and metallic silver skirt, sang and bounced around much like Glass Candy’s Ida No. They had brought projections to display behind them, but Kilby is currently lacking a projector. Kilby’s new lighting setup made up for the lack of visuals though with the simple exchange of primary colors.

Unfortunately, the decent-sized crowd dispersed shortly after Beachmen were finished; no more than 15 of us stayed. Honestly, I think that their set would have benefited from Urban Lounge demographics—booze, dancing, a general nightlife atmosphere. This was their first all-ages show ever, but when Hall asked the audience mid-set if anyone was under 21, no one responded. The crowd was super stoic as well, when we should have been dancing like campy fools. I could sense that Hall was yearning for more of a reaction from us.

They played “Always” and “Psychic Driving” from their 2011 self-titled debut and a about six other new songs, including a stellar dark tune, “No Turning Back.” Hall’s haunting, sensual voice cut through the live electronics nicely. Seconds after going into Lenses single, “Tell Me,” its opening arpeggio faded. Something had gone wrong. Hicks tried to fix it right then, but had to scrap it for another. Hicks spent another 20 minutes after the show trying to figure out what went wrong, but when he finally did, the venue was empty. Thankfully, Soft Metals pushed through the odd passivity of a misplaced Wednesday crowd at Kilby and performed a spellbinding set of retro synth music.
Photos:
Rather than facing the audience, Soft Metals' synths faced each other, perpendicular to those of us in the audience. Photo: Christian Schultz Soft Metals. Photo: Suzy Poling