Thursday, 14 November 2013


Woodkid  |  Metropolis

                        PHOTOS  |  SYLVANA 

Woodkid (a.k.a. Treeboy, a.k.a. Pinocchio): visionary songwriter, virtuosic director, lucid beardist. Play his songs and feel your pineal gland throb. Watch his videos and note the vibrations in the room. Speak his name into a mirror and watch your beard grow. 

Let’s dive right into it.

Black Atlass comes on stage hands-free, his buddy in the back working the mixing decks. His hair is gelled. Up there on the Metropolis stage, with the lights beaming cylindrically down on him, singing to a thousand people, the kid looks like a superstar.

Unfortunately the music doesn’t back that up. Maybe I’d think differently if I were of another gender. These songs seem to serve little purpose other than helping Black Atlass get laid when he sings them on tour. Really the only setting where these songs fit is here, with Black Atlass on stage looking into some girl’s eyes as he sings. We’re all here as accessories to his upcoming one-night stand.

He knows how to sing, but I doubt this stuff would sound half as good if someone cut off all that delay in the mic. The instrumentals are decent, though they don’t vary much between each other. What we’re hearing is a cross between a gritty Justin Bieber with a better falsetto, and a downtempo, one-man N’Sync.

The crowd offers no bodily reaction to the sounds on stage. The aesthetic is powdered with boredom and decency, one thousand people waiting politely for this person to leave so that the shepherd of the golden age may usher himself in and cleanse us all.

It’s hard to picture what kind and level of concert Woodkid gives. His songs are so multi- layered and grandiose; there’s no way he’d show up on stage with that many instruments. True?

Untrue. He brought the whole damn thing: twin drummers up top, full brass section to the right, lone keyboardist to the left, full string section in the middle, and the man himself in front. We stare at the stage in total silence, anticipating a steep incline.
Sounds. The keys tap and dance. The brass drones ominously. The string section swoons. Massive drums boom in the back as an endless hall appears on the projector. We are all gripped lightly by the wrist and pulled into the hall, completely lost and wandering, forgetting everything but these beautiful sounds.

Magic. There’s some crucial spiritual/scientific stuff embedded within this music. Something in how the vast orchestration ties in with the simple but equally vast drums, and how they both tie in with Woodkid’s clearly foreign but objectively reassuring voice. The lyrics, too, are something else; they’re specific enough to tell a story, yet vague enough to allow you to feel like you’re part of that story. It’s difficult (and possibly impossible) to articulate. The ballpark idea is that, while these songs are playing, you feel as though you don’t really need anything except for them.

Woodkid speaks a little between songs to make sure we don’t levitate away. He’s speaking France French, laughing, reeking of humility. Through speaking or singing, the man is conducting the collective heartbeat of Metropolis. It’s a seamless and no doubt painfully rehearsed show. If mistakes are being made they are not for mortal ears to hear.

The graphics on the projector reflect the emotions in the music as loyally as images could: a rogue satellite deviates from its track to zoom curiously into the arctic; then we are taken through the inside of an active wire; finally, a flaked spiral passage of crystals that lead to a black space with a perfect white light at the end of it. As we go toward the light, we are either humans passing into the afterlife, or fetuses exiting the womb. There seems to be no distinction.

It ends, eventually, because it has to. Woodkid’s songs are a resort you visit, not a place to call home. Take in too much of it and sidewalks starts to evaporate. The sky will seem like it’s an inch above your head. Your head won’t be your head at all, but everyone’s head; a collective head, with thoughts directed everywhere and nowhere in particular, encompassing all things in and out of existence while you and everyone else hum a tune written by some weird French guy with an unapologetic beard.

back to top