Rich Aucoin @ Fortune -- 09/16/14

Regular readers of the blog (all twenty six of you) will know how much I rave about Rich Aucoin, especially his live shows experiences, and that one of my favourite new discoveries of the year has been Chersea. So when I found out that they would be doing a show together, you could say I was pretty excited. And with the addition of Lowell -- who is, much like Hansel, so hot right now -- that seemed like a pretty damn strong lineup.

Starting things off was Chersea, normally a solo looper, this time she was out with a gentleman friend, drummer Drew McKay. It was the first time I had seen Chersea without Chelsea Laing on (literally) every instrument, and while a couple brief times it felt like McKay was just playing alongside her instead of with her, for the most part he provided a good backbone to the songs without being overpowering; a nice supplement, since the focus was (and should be) on Chersea's loops and powerful voice.
Armed with a mountain of keys and synth, a drum pad, and even a trumpet, her songs ranged from the dark synth of "Grey Matter" to the more upbeat and catchy, danceable "I Could Lost It All". It's always amazing watching someone working loops, building layer upon layer, and "Mind Porn" as it grew to an explosive ending.

Oh, and the two of them were also joined by a third person on stage, but not playing any instruments: a girl with a light-up LED hula-hoop dancing just off to the side the entire set.

After draping the stage with white fabric, Lowell was out behind the keys, backed by guy on guitar and a laptop, celebrating her new album, We Loved Her Dearly, out on the same day.
Early technical problems slowed things down right after the first song, but "Cloud 69"got the crowd right back into it, as Lowell came out from behind the keys, dancing at the front of the stage in her very mesh shirt, name emblazoned across the front Wonder Woman-style, very strategically placed.
She's a very strong songwriter with ridiculously catchy alt-pop songs, the anthemic "I Love You Money", and "LGBT" -- the chorus proclaiming "don't hate our love" -- but her live show didn't quite live up to the songs I had heard off the album. I'm not sure if her voice wasn't quite as good, or if it would be better with a bigger backing band, but her live set just fell a little short.

And finally, one day removed from his birthday, Rich Aucoin came out to introduce his usual show opening. He orchestrated a sing along to the 20th Century Fox fanfare before a recorded monologue which can be summed up with "we're all so lucky to be alive" and "Be Awesome", then the usual "opening credits", picking out people Rich knew was going to be at the show and giving them amusing and heroic attributes.

As the intro came to a climax, they burst into "Meaning of Life", the first song off the new album Ephemeral, right away uniting everyone in yelling along. Over the next hour Rich controlled the show from his pedal board and sampler, hardly standing still for a single moment, with his partner in crime Tony Dallas crashing on the drums. Aucoin was all about the stage, in and out of the crowd, getting everyone to form a giant circle before rushing into the middle to dance, blasting confetti cannons, and of course, bringing out the famed giant rainbow parachute (like from gym class) which everyone danced under to "Are You Experiencing?", a physical and emotional manifestation of the lyrics "When you give it all up, you get it back".

His shows are always set to visuals as well, many times movie clips or internet videos to go along with the songs, like introducing "I Am Sorry" with a montage of famous movie apologies, and "Want To Believe" having the appropriate X-Files accompaniment.

It seemed far too short when he brought the set to an end with "It", making everyone vow not to "leave it all in our heads", before gathering everyone in the venue at the stage for a giant group picture. He also, as usual, left his name and phone number on the big screen, promising that if you text him, he'll send you some music.

I always say, it's nearly impossible to simply describe the full scope of a Rich Aucoin show, or even show someone in photos. It's something you have to experience. Every single person in the room is on the same page, and looking around the venue you see nothing but giant smiles. Rich Aucoin can bring everyone together like no one I have ever seen.

Meaning of Life, Undead, Four More Years, Yelling In Sleep, They Say Obey, I Am Sorry, Let It Go, Want To Believe, Are You Experiencing?, It.