Photos and review by Brett Myers.
Halfway through Son Lux’s set at Brooklyn Steel last week, one song, “You Don’t Know Me,” came to a halt three times in a row. “Sorry, guys,” singer Ryan Lott delicately called, “The track is too dirty for my laptop.” I couldn’t put a finger on why I wasn’t blown away so far, but this statement summed it up perfectly. Yes, their production is dirty, filthy even, but a laptop just can’t do them justice.
Son Lux is a fascinating entity. Their beats, synths, and drum rhythms dance around your ears like panicked ants, but it’s far from purely experimental or aimless. Singles like “Lost It To Trying” and “Dream State” bring these scattered arrangements together with huge, anthemic hooks to create a very strange world that only the three nerds behind Son Lux can unlock. And we, the listeners, are here to just take in the bizarre and awe-inspiring landscape.
In turn, it came as a disappointing surprise that I was far from hooked several songs into their show. Something was off. The music sounded exactly as it did through my headphones, but that was it. The room didn’t tremble with the kind of core-shaking bass I’ve dreamt of experiencing from them live. Instead of plunging into their dark and chaotic world, I felt like I was just watching a slideshow of pictures from a trip. Their orchestrations didn’t fill the room—they just played somewhat loudly.
The night’s biggest let down came three songs in when their biggest hit, “Easy,” simply came and went like a halfway decent addition to your Daily Mix playlists on Spotify. It’s a track that should suck the life out of you in the most entrancing way possible. However, the track’s ghostly bassline was a mere hum and the horns that haunt your soul through your headphones barely came to life. “Easy” is easily one of my favorite songs of the 2010s, but if I hadn’t heard it before that night, I would have forgotten it as soon as it was over.
Even so, the performance was not without its highlights. Perhaps their most opulent release yet, the aforementioned “Dream State” brought the show to where it should have been—for just five minutes. Lott’s grandiose and reverbed hook sent chills through my body and stopped me in my tracks (I was talking to my friend and mid-sentence). It was the kind of artful mix of melodrama and orchestration that overproduced acts like Imagine Dragons only dream of. Closing the show with “Lost It To Trying,” drummer Ian Chang pummeled through track like it was the sprint of his life and stole the show. Unfortunately, Lott’s vocals fell flat without the harmonies present in the studio version.
Was it a bad show? Absolutely not. Their music is far too intriguing to ever produce a negative experience. Perhaps the fault lies with the venue’s production. Seeing as the lighting, mostly made of colored flashing spotlights that rarely came together to fill the stage like I know Brooklyn Steel is capable of, was also a letdown, the underwhelming show might not have had anything to do with the band at all. Either way, my friend Laura summed the experience while we waited for the encore, “was that it?”