LIVE REVIEW: Robert DeLong in Portland, ME 02.16.19
“Let’s be more than ordinary” seems to be a motto that rings true on Robert DeLong’s current tour in support of his latest release, the See You In the Future EP.
If you had seen DeLong before, you think you’d know what to expect. However, with every tour, he comes prepared with a new armory of tricks and toys that make his set one of the most unique and creative out there. Running onto a stage set with multiple space station looking pieces, cameras, and two drum kits in a fitted black suit, with a white button down shirt and black skinny tie, you’re not entirely sure what to expect. He surely looks too pristine to cause that much havoc? But that’s where you’d be wrong. A light fan emerges dead front and center. A Theremin of sorts, which DeLong makes deliberate strums at with a wide-brimmed wand before breaking into new EP closer, “Beginning of the End.”
A former one-man band, he now has a drummer, Adam Phelps, who adds to the calculated chaos and logistic loops of his mystical melodies. Grabbing a semi-inflated balloon to crinkle into a recorder, DeLong leaves no common household object left untouched as an instrument, as proven with his signature Wii Remote and joystick. Another new addition to the set is GoPros, set up in front of his keyboards so the crowd can get a closer look at his hands and facial expressions from another angle through the monitors and video screen backdrop.
Fan favorites “Don’t Wait Up,” “Jealousy,” and “Global Concepts” had the audience dancing and singing along as DeLong bounced around the stage and up close and personal. The new stage set up allows for him to move around a lot more than the previous conjoined mega center of noise, and therefore permits more crowd participation and somehow even more energy. And even though he has a drummer, it doesn’t stop him from jumping on the kit for his intense and passionate solos. The crowd also had strong reactions to his newer tracks as well, with “First Person on Earth” fitting in like an old tune. Audible representation of an acid trip, appropriately titled “Acid Rain” brought on swirling colorful overlays on the video screen before breaking into a montage of Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime” as the intro for “Happy.” Using a GoPro on a stand, DeLong flipped the camera the other way around, showing the joyful faces of the crowd with trippy effects on the screen backdrop.
“Revolutionary” called up the Theremin again and “Long Way Down” kept the dark moody vibes before the spirit of K. Flay emerged on the screen for the killer collab “Favorite Color Is Blue.” As a modified version of the music video played and the Theremin whirred, the scene was set. Disappearing into the dark sea of faces, DeLong ended the main set in a small dance party. Hopping back on stage for a different and groovy take on a 90s one-hit wonder, DeLong charmed everyone with White Town’s “Your Woman.” The repetitious, “Be not afraid, it’s just a game” of “Religious Views” wound everyone down before he made his way to the back to wail on the drums on last time. Ending the night was an acoustic version of “Basically, I” spliced with Radiohead’s “Karma Police” and “Thanks for Everything” keeping the highs and lows balanced as to not have a sensory overload.
If you haven’t seen Robert DeLong’s show, it’s highly recommended for a feel good and unique experience. If you have seen him before, you may think the bar is set.. but if history proves with him, the future is now and you should see him again soon.