Gotye at the Aragon

April 3rd, 2012: As seen on Time Out Chicago (PDF)

Aside from the conspiracy theory I can’t shake on account of the title likeness of the dude’s two biggest hits to Elliott Smith numbers—”Easy Way Out,” “Somebody That I Used To Know”—there’s still the unforgivable matter of the 45-minute set he short-changed his legions of generation-YouTube fans with last night at a sold-out Aragon Ballroom tour-stop. And no, we’re not going to count the three neo-Motown throwaways you slathered a faux-key brass section over for those that decided to stick around long after Kimbra came out for her cameo mid-set.

That said, Gotye (aka Wouter De Backer) was given something no burgeoning artist could possibly know how to handle—140 million clicks on YouTube for “Somebody That I Used To Know”—and he’s certainly giving the hordes of 18-30-year-old women, who dominated attendance at the show, what they want. They happily cut their chatter short to whip out their cell phones, turn on their flash from 200 feet away and document said YouTube hit.

But for rock’s sake, Backer, you have something that can’t be bought right now: attention. Show some balls, man. That was funny when you stopped “Somebody That I Used To Know” feigning a poor memory of how to play the damn thing. But what if you “Creep”-ed it like Radiohead and didn’t even play it at all? Or better yet, what if you opened with it? Or even better yet, one-upped Kanye and Jay-Z’s ad nauseam “Niggas In Paris” assault, and made some epic pop gluttony statement?

All besides the point, maybe. You’ve made it to America, selling out huge ballrooms, fighting the good fight, with a mere three-album oeuvre. Your stage presence wasn’t spectacular. You could not emulate Sting if you wanted to, it’s apparent. Your ability to traverse through genres is impressive, threading your own drum leads. Your keyboardist is a monster once he lays off the digi-brass. And “Heart’s A Mess” was one of the best-paced performances I’ve seen all year, SXSW included. It’s just too bad you waited ’til your final number to weave the true baroque folk-bending magic.

Setlist:

Eyes Wide Open
The Only Way
Easy Way Out
Smoke & Mirrors
State Of The Art
Thanks For Your Time
Coming Back
Somebody That I Used To Know
Save Me
Heart’s A Mess
In Your Light
I Feel Better
Learnalilgivinalovin

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