Matthew Dear is a man who wears many hats. At once, a DJ, a dance-music producer, an experimental pop artist, and a band leader, the New York-based producer, and co-founder of both Ghostly International and its offshoot Spectral Sound, knows no musical boundaries. This was evident last Wednesday night at Los Angeles’ up-and-coming venue, Center For The Arts, Eagle Rock.
The New Yorker generally performs under his “DJ” hat, but during the current tour, Dear decided to bring a full band along for the ride. The addition of four extra musicians made his unique brand of pop music come to life through live percussion, bass, and trumpet, as the multi-talented musician hopped from his laptop to the microphone, flawlessly stomping his foot pedals to produced distorted vocals and loops.
As each song progressed and the layers built on top of each other, so did the energy both on and off stage. Acting as frontman, Dear commanded the stage with a graceful swagger, sauntering across the stage during vocal breaks, slapping a maraca or tambourine forcefully against his hand as he clomped his combat boots against the stage’s floor, keeping rhythm with his feet. When the music swelled, the packed venue absorbed its energy and let it loose through each audience member’s body. Teenagers comingled with young, and mature, adults, during the all-ages dance party. Age did not matter here. Each person was focused on dancing, entranced by Dear’s beats, which transcended generations.
But the performance was not all fun and games. Standing by the front of the stage, Matthew Dear’s concentration and serious demeanor glared down. It was almost as if he was in another world, so transfixed by the music he was creating and hardly paying attention to the jubilant chaos that ensued on the dance floor. Although there was a large audience in front of him, Dear was making music for himself. He was not trying to impress anyone—although his performance style inherently mesmerized the entire crowd. He was simply making music, and for that, I have nothing but respect.Los Angeles was just one of many stops on Matthew Dear’s path to SXSW and Europe. For a full list of live dates, click here.