Though millions walk around humming Wally DeBacker’s catchy-as-hell breakout single “Somebody That I Used to Know,” most of them probably don’t even know how to pronounce his stage name. But with a sold-out string of nationwide tour dates, Gotye (that’s go-tee-yay) is quickly gaining ground as a radio staple and will even appear as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on April 14.
Passing through New York for two packed shows, Gotye was joined by Aussie singer Kimbra, his “Somebody” co-star. Although she was billed as the opener, it was obvious that she demanded attention and respect as an established artist in her own right, with songs that leapt from manic scatting to elegant vocal runs. On “Gold Ring,” she even channeled her inner Yoko Ono and indulged in some primal scream therapy.
But make no mistake, Gotye was the main attraction. Armed with roughly a million musical gadgets and a band consisting of a bassist, guitarist, drummer and an accomplice in electronic musical mastery, he dazzled the audience with his ability to recreate the lush and layered tracks on his latest album, Making Mirrors, as well as dip into his back catalog to less overly-illustrative tracks like “Thanks for Your Time.”
When he wasn’t serving as resident mad scientist amidst his mechanical instruments, Gotye also proved he had more traditional rock star chops as he beat the hell out of an upright drum kit on a few select numbers. Crowd-pleasers “Eyes Wide Open” and “Looking For An Easy Way Out” made way for the apex of the show, featuring the appropriately-named “State of the Art,” on which Gotye’s vocal-bending magic proclaimed the arrival of a new electronic era, and “Somebody That I Used to Know,” garnering a fanatical response from an already-frenzied audience.
Puzzling was how he would keep the show’s heart-pounding pace when he’d just played his Ace, but, like the pro that he is, Gotye broke out the engaging “Hard to Miss” and the genuinely beautiful “Bronte,” featuring a duet between a pair of metelephones. The encore included the streamlined rocker “I Feel Better,” with its uplifting lyrics and just-plucked-from-Motown sound, and the crowd was reluctant to leave, even after the house lights came up.
But they needn’t worry; this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Gotye. So you’d better learn how to pronounce his name.
–Allison Johnelle Boron