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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

RAC At The El Rey: Show Review

Jennifer Joh |
April 17, 2014 | 5:50 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

RAC mixes live music with synthesizers (Jennifer Joh/Neon Tommy)
RAC mixes live music with synthesizers (Jennifer Joh/Neon Tommy)
RAC is one of those artists that I'm curious to see live, because as much as I am a fan of his music through my headphones, hearing it live would be a different element. But his delivery and show execution didn't disappoint, and I was smiling ear-to-ear from the opening set to the very last song. 

Remix Artist Collective, better known as RAC, performed a sold-out show at the El Rey on Tuesday night, featuring originals, crowd-pleasers, and an impressive number of guest performers.

ALSO READ: RAC: André Allen Anjos On Remix Culture And The Digital Frontier

Balancing live instrumentals and vocals with poppy synthesizers, RAC dropped tunes from his new EP, "Strangers" and many old favorites from 2012's "Chapter One." Everything from the variety of acts to the atmosphere of the venue made this concert one to remember.

Max and the Moon opened the stage. (Jennifer Joh/Neon Tommy)
Max and the Moon opened the stage. (Jennifer Joh/Neon Tommy)
Opening the show was a new, rather low-key band called Max and the Moon. But props to RAC for recognizing talent early.

Despite the sparse crowd, the rookie band turned out to be one of my personal highlights of the entire night. Not much information about the band is available yet, but their short set was enough to prove their incredible skill and promise. Max and the Moon performed tracks from their recently released EP, "Crazy," which is a unique mix of indie rock with a touch of pop.

The feel of their songs could be compared to Local Natives, who they also covered in their set. However, one of the lead vocalists had a particularly memorable voice that added a subtle retro-pop punch. Despite their recent entry into the industry, they were perfectly synchronized, had contagious chemistry, and very quickly got the crowd involved and excited. 

Joywave on stage. (Jennifer Joh/Neon Tommy)
Joywave on stage. (Jennifer Joh/Neon Tommy)
Following Max and the Moon and an interesting transition to RAC's set was Joywave, an electro-pop dance group whose music is a catch-all for pop music lovers and avid EDM fans alike. Most of their set was selected from their newest EP, "How Do You Feel?," which consists of jumpy synth beats and high energy, genuinely danceable rhythms.

Joywave, while still relatively underground, has been building up a reputation and boasts a devoted following. The staccato beats of their songs manage to be smooth, and while the lead voice didn't project enough live to outshine the heavy instrumentals, they pulled off a great, crowd-pleasing performance.

Dropping their most popular song "Tongues" and other gems like "Somebody New" and "Now," the band connected intimately with the audience. Their chemistry was seamless, and the crowd's energy was palpable and long-lasting. Even with minutes away from RAC's appearance, Joywave successfully kept the crowd going. 

These two guest bands were worthy previews of what was to come, much like a truly successful pre-game. People were just reaching their peak levels of energy, but not burnt out or impatient.

RAC came on shortly after Joywave, though it felt like a long wait. The ambiance of the El Rey served as a perfect host to RAC's performance, which was lively and dynamic as well as laid-back and undemanding. 

RAC opened his set with his well-loved remix of Two Door Cinema Club's "Something Good Can Work," easily one of his most popular singles. The crowd was already cheering, chanting and clapping along. The song was a smart choice to start off with, and the show definitely didn't slow down thanks to an exquisite selection of songs from his debut album
"Strangers," including the album's first-dropped single "Hollywood" featuring Penguin Prison, a darker and edgier track.

Another highlight was "Tourist," a collab with Tokyo Police Club. The lights dancing in the background were not overwhelming and gave a less intense EDM feel. 

The real muscle that powered the show was the unexpected interspersing of guest performers, all who are featured on his album. Each appearance hyped the crowd, and RAC seemed to absorb the pleasure of the audience. The lead singer of Joywave returned onstage to perform with RAC's remix of the "Tongues."

Alex Ebert was on stage for the whole set as part of RAC's live band, and sang live for the island-feel  "Tear You Down." This was an awesome addition, since Ebert easily has the most unique vocals in the album. 

Pink Feather performs alongside RAC for "Seventeen." (Jennifer Joh/Neon Tommy)
Pink Feather performs alongside RAC for "Seventeen." (Jennifer Joh/Neon Tommy)
Another sweet touch to the show was that RAC's wife, singer Pink Feathers, also performed alongside RAC, playing the keyboard and adding synth beats. She took the center stage with the song "Seventeen," which took the tempo up with its bubbly, xylophone-like synth beats. She and RAC proved to be quite the multi-talented duo. 

The rest of the set was a blend of more laid-back tracks like "All I Got" and his well-known remixes of Lana Del Rey's "Blue Jeans," Foster the People's "Houdini," and The Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition." Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros' "Home," was a high point for the audience, who head-bopped, threw their arms in the air, jumped, and sang-shouted along.

This energy climaxed as he neared the end of his set, as guest artists YACHT and Matthew Koma came on to perform their more pop-friendly singles. YACHT was beautifully quirky and gifted with the audience, dancing right at the edge of the stage during "405," an radio-friendly, lighthearted pop tune. Matthew Koma made an appearance to perform "Cheap Sunglasses," with the crowd enthusiastically singing along to the infectious chorus.  

When RAC and the band left the stage, the crowd of course demanded more. As the group warmed up to close the show, the instrumentals faded smoothly into the insanely catchy bass line of "Let Go," the most popular track on his album. Featured artist MNDR came out from the shadows, donned in black sunglasses and a silk robe, to perform her part of the song. MNDR's sass and energy was irresistible, and gave RAC's grand finale all the pep and excitement it deserved.   

RAC's concert was purely reflective of his mission and identity as an artist. Instead of grafting "club-mix" dance beats to songs, RAC is all about keeping the original structure and just expanding the arrangement with original instrumentals, and reinventing the style. A reinterpretation rather than a remix is a better way to describe his work.

Like so, he was constantly teaming with guest artists he collaborated with on stage, as well as being totally humble on stage. He often shared the spotlight with others, which kept the show's dynamic interesting and balanced; after all, RAC started off not as a one-man-show, but as a group. 

RAC shares the stage with MNDR and Alex Ebert for "Let Go." (Jennifer Joh/Neon Tommy)
RAC shares the stage with MNDR and Alex Ebert for "Let Go." (Jennifer Joh/Neon Tommy)
Even if RAC is now André alone, he consistently deviates from mainstream beat-heavy club mixes, remixing and collaborating instead with the indie scene, creating a whole new genre for listeners who enjoy sounds across the board.

His show was just a good of a mix as his work, making the atmosphere and experience nothing else but addictive and memorable. I'll be humming his tunes long after they're finished. 

"Strangers" is now available on iTunes and Spotify.

Read more of NT's show reviews here.

Reach Staff Reporter Jennifer Joh here. Follow her on Twitter



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