8/3/16 – Royale

For Broods, first appearances are not everything. As blue lights and pulsing bass engulfed an overwhelmingly young audience siblings Georgia and Caleb Nott descended upon the Royale’s stage. Armed with new pop infused hooks and melodies, Broods gripped their audience from the opening, even with their more hesitant songs. Flanked by a drummer and keyboardist, Caleb Nott released “Conscious,” a pulsing and reserved pop track from Broods’ latest eponymous release. Departing from their previous work, “Conscious” ventures into the deeper electro-pop realm that characterizes their sound without venturing too far. Broods made it clear; dancing would come later.

Within the past few years, Broods has emerged as a preeminent alt-electronic act, fusing ambient landscapes, soaring vocals, and irresistible melodies. The brother-sister duo’s songwriting is strikingly clear, equally at home in an arena with Ellie Goulding or in a stripped-down acoustic atmosphere, as they would later prove. While their first record, Evergreen, readily fuses these qualities, Conscious, represents an almost complete departure into a punching electro-pop realm. The gleaming tracks enveloped the Royale, but Broods’ setlist limited this to the second half.

Clad in black, Georgia continued an orchestrated march into darkness as she belted the chorus to “Never Gonna Change.” Her developed poise, the result of non-stop touring, was evident and augmented by the backing wall of musicians. On subtler tracks, Broods’ additional live members allowed for greater cohesion and depth while keeping Georgia’s vocal prowess front and center. However, Georgia’s vocals constantly battled against the Royale’s bass-heavy mixing, forcing moments of strain throughout the first half.

The bass fading, Georgia found respite in a moment of quiet, and summed up the set’s first half saying,“I like to sing sad songs,” as Caleb stepped down from his electronic pedestal and donned an acoustic guitar. Broods’ stripped acoustic transition eschewed the electro-pop production veneer and isolated the common ground between Evergreen and Conscious. Georgia’s voice echoed throughout the silent crowd as Caleb strummed a tame rendition of “All of Your Glory.” But this was simply the calm before the synthpop storm that carried Broods into the rest of the evening.

Draped in new white robes, the pair returned to the stage with striking confidence as the throbbing bass and ambient atmospheres fell victim to a wall of gleaming synths with “Recovery.” This was their entrance. Broods failed to let their audience go, and while the Royale’s poor mixing remained an issue, Georgia’s sleek dance moves and layered vocals humanized the pop-atmosphere that risked feeling too distant. At moments, the crowd was perfectly in time, echoing: “I wanna feel your heart,” while Georgia sang into the crowd during “Heartlines,” arguably the evening’s strongest track. Like Georgia, Caleb embraces this live element, by picking up a bass, drumming along on pads, and failing to simply press play on a backing track. This electronic backbone propelled the show’s second half to a new level, even with compromised dynamics.

As a standalone synth-pop show, the latter half of Broods’ performance checked all the boxes, but the duo went beyond that. As evidenced at the Royale, Broods must balance their atmospheric and pop sensibilities. The delineated halves of the set elicited two distinct atmospheres, but Broods can bolster their dynamics with a fully integrated set, weaving their ambient and pop works. Yet, as Georgia sang the final anthem before the encore (“I’d lose everything so I can sing / Hallelujah, I’m free”), the setlist’s structure shone. Without a stream of preceding pop-numbers, “Free” would fail to capitalize on Broods’ polished, slightly euphoric stream of tracks. The main set seamlessly elided into an explosive encore and the crowd confirmed what Broods already knew: more arena tours and fewer acoustic sets are in sight.

A Sonic Shift: Broods
Pros
  • Stage Presence
  • Strong Vocals
  • Crowd Interaction
Cons
  • Poor Mixing
  • Divisive Setlist
8Overall Score

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