Lush, hypnotic, sexy, beautiful. Those are just a few of the words that come to mind when trying to describe the music of Rhye. Listening to their debut record, Woman, is truly a full-body experience. It is impossible to hear “The Fall” without becoming infected by the simple, spellbinding rhythm, and I’ve never listened to “Open” without the melody lodging firmly in my head for days. At their Royale show the other night, however, a few things helped take the show from an average performance by a great band to something transcendent — and just about perfect.
First, Milosh, the lead singer, has a voice like an angel. His vocals, which are undoubtedly the focal piece of the record, are just as pristine in person and envelop the listener even more when blasted through concert speakers. Milosh’s voice, however, wouldn’t have nearly the power it did without the incredible band backing him up. Band members played a variety of instruments — including trombone, 5-string violin, and electric cello — with masterful skill.
But possibly the best part of the show was how the band dealt with the issue of limited material; Rhye’s debut and only album is a mere 36 minutes long. As Milosh pointed out, everyone would be bummed to have paid good money for a show that short. Instead of including covers or drawn-out chats, though, the band took the music that we all know and love and expanded upon it. Nearly every song was extended in a new and creative way. Solos flew back and forth from keyboard, to violin, to drums, and new harmonies were explored. The final song from Milosh’s solo catalog, “It’s Over,” had an extended outro with four-part harmonies, sung with no amplification whatsoever.
In between trying to get the noisy crowd to quiet down, Milosh mentioned an unusual piece of merch available only at this show. Twenty-four limited edition posters had been printed especially for Boston and engraved with a secret code written in Webdings font. I managed to get ahold of one of these exclusive prints and later deciphered the code, which reads: “Who is Rhye. Edward Bernays.” Bernays was a legendary Austrian-American pioneer of public relations and propaganda. For a band that keeps themselves shrouded in mystery yet still manages to gain such a large following, it’s likely that they learned a thing or two from Mr. Bernays.
This show had the potential to be satisfactory, at best. Rhye’s mellow music isn’t an obvious fit for a live setting. But Milosh and crew knew what to do to entrance the crowd and get them swaying to their soothing beats. The band deconstructed and then rebuilt their songs to entertain the audience without putting them to sleep. In doing so, they put on one of the best shows I’ve seen in recent memory.
- Stunning vocals
- Interesting live versions of songs
- Terrific instrumentalists
- Noisy crowd