The achievement in Matthew Dear’s music often lies in his ability to make ominous soundscapes bump like a pretty good time. His 2010 album Black City painted an urban world full of sickly debauchery that wasn’t condemned as much as had a cover charge. With that being said, it makes sense Dear graced the stage at Buffalo’s favorite Lynchian basement Soundlab for a late night of electronica, knowing full well we all had work the next day.
The opener Light Asylum hit the stage sometime past 10:30 and immediately set to pumping up the dispersed, lethargic crowd. Shannon Funchness, the duo’s singer, was a powerhouse with two drumsticks, a manly moan, and a militant vibe. Their minimal New Order-esc beats with her muffled calls to action were surprisingly effective, giving all the black hoodies in the crowd a reason to sway.
Our man Matthew Dear was both fashionably late and dressed, sporting a confining suit with slicked back hair. His angular body bent to his beats as he plucked guitar, shook maracas, tweaked synths, and sang into a stage light (again, Lynchian). The set featured a number of tracks from his new album Beams—"Earthforms," "Headcage"—but as the night went on, Black City became more prominent. “You Put a Smell on Me” was a highlight, turning the crowd into a jittery mess of flying limbs. Perhaps it was due to Dear’s voice being less foreboding in person, but the crowd seemed to have traded in their earlier doom and gloom for the pleasures of dancing uninhibited. Dear mentioned he sometimes prefers to play the smaller crowds due to their intimacy. I think we prefer Dear because he plays dirty, but knows it’s more fun if the dirt comes off.