Woodkid at Festival International de Jazz de Montréal | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Festival International de Jazz de Montréal 2014, Woodkid

Woodkid at Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, June 26th, 2014

Jun 28, 2014 Photography by Laura Studarus Festival International de Jazz de Montréal 2014
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Since his appearance last year at Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, Woodkid (ne Yoann Lemoine) has gone from notable second tier act (who’s very presence can drive a crowd to soccer-style chanting) to headliner. His opening set at this year’s edition of the festival proved that he is a talent that deserves to be a household name.

Of course, his becoming a “household name” is a bit of a romantic idea. The marriage of his flat-footed vocals (equal parts Rufus Wainwright and Antony) and orchestral backing is straight up stunning. But the tracks of Woodkid’s debut The Golden Age offer a cathartic experience more in line with, say, musical theater than traditional pop. In other words, it takes an emotional investment in order to truly appreciate its complexity. That just makes the fact that over 20,000 people turned up to see him perform on Thursday night all the more impressive.

Woodkid’s live show is meant to be accessible. (It probably helped that he appeared on stage in a baggy pair of shorts and a thick beard that made him look like he just came straight from a day of surfing.) It makes sense that he knows how to put on a performance—although a formable musical talent, Lemoine’s day job is actually producing music videos. (See: Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” Taylor Swift’s “Back to December,” and Lana Del Rey’s “Born to Die.”) Everything about the set, from his dramatic entrance flanked by several drummers, to the cinematic projections and light show, to the runway that he occasionally jogged down, was crafted to evoke a visceral response.

The French musician didn’t look 100% comfortable in the spotlight. When he got the end of the runway he’d simply look out into the crowd. Often he’d stand to the side of the stage or turn his back to the audience, allowing the impressive light show to do the heavy lifting. But given the surreal nature of his material, his physical tics humanized the performance. It was a mesmerizing contrast; one that almost assures that Woodkid’s opening salvo might just be one of the best shows of the entire festival.

Check out photos of Woodkid’s set here.




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