POST-MILLENNIAL TENSION: Tricky, Trocadero, Last Night
BY DAVE ALLEN Last night at the Troc, British artist Tricky forever banished the notion of trip-hop – the influential jazz-meets-electronic genre he helped forge in the mid ’90s – as a precious, made-for-headphones-listening style. His backing band turned the bristling, haunted soundscapes found on his albums into booming, kaleidoscopic arena-rock, while the Bristol-born MC showed, through his tightly-coiled swagger and distinctively gruff vocals, that American hip-hop acts like Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy owe him a thing or two.
His band took the stage to the sounds of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” but broke into their own bass-heavy vamp before the song’s climactic drumbreak. Tricky’s approach was economical throughout the evening, conserving energy by delivering lines with his back turned and taking frequent smoke breaks. Between turns at the mic, he was constantly bobbing and shimmying, flaying the air with his dreadlocks. Between his spastic moves and his choked, almost pained delivery, his performance frequently verged on cathartic before reverting back to chill mode.
On tracks from his newest album, Knowle West Boy, vocalist Veronika Coassolo delivered most of the hooks, most impressively on the bluesy “Puppy Toy” and on the spare, percussion-driven “Veronika.” Other than introducing a guest spot from two dub-style MCs, Tricky’s only words from the stage were “Thank you very much,” sometimes with multiple ‘very’s.Tracks that sound like dancing skeletons on Tricky’s albums become viscerally flesh and bone in the live setting, and the band showed this best on the dark, throbbing tracks from his earliest albums, with mesmerizing grooves driven by guitar, bass and keyboards and a drummer thundering alongside drum loops. Though the set closed strongly with “Dear God” and a reprise of the opening vamp through “In The Air Tonight,” but the encore, “Joseph,” just plain went on too long and ended with a fairly pro-forma destroy-your-gear rock move. As he alternately murmured and bellowed the lyrics, “She left me, now she’s gone / So special,” he unleashed in the way he’d threatened to do all night, pulling the drum kit off the riser and throwing it to the floor. The tension throughout the evening was great, but I could have done without the last bit of release.
The opening act, a Brasilian trio called Telepathique, brought together scuzzy garage rock with club beats. Though they got the early-comers dancing, singer Mylene never fully let loose until she tackled a few verses in her native Portuguese. During the high points of their set, guitarist Mauricio tore it up a la Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, hacking and slashing and artfully employing feedback like a hidden string section, and Erico Theobaldo doubled as DJ and drummer. But when both stood behind the table-mounted laptops, faces bobbing and illuminated as they fiddled with samples, the energy dragged, and Mylene was out front alone, without the chemistry to make the beats truly cook.
[Photo by TIFFANY YOON]