Montreal’s very own Blue Hawaii played the Cabaret Playhouse last night to a packed hometown crowd with their dancing shoes on.
Opener D’Eon set the scene with a mysterious solo performance held entirely behind the screen of a Macbook. Despite the simplicity of materials, D’Eon deftly created the illusion of a full piece band, seamlessly weaving together the styles of Bollywood beats, traditional Eastern European and Middle Eastern music, and Medieval folk dance.
The tunes moved from contemplative droning to full blown dance party, but were all tied together through the sampling of what seems to be a hammered dulcimer, an instrument that gave the performance its ambiguously exotic flavour. Though there wasn’t much to look at, there was plenty to take in–and the crowd nodded along approvingly to the mystical sounds.
Boy-girl ambient/electronica duo Blue Hawaii then took to the stage, swapping out D’Eon’s computer keyboard for larger consoles of buttons and switches. Raphaelle Standell-Preston, the duo’s vocalist, warned the crowd that they would start out slow, with a captivating, introspective performance that commanded the attention of the talkative audience. But it wasn’t long before their set escalated to a true fever pitch, with Alex Cowan churning out beats with fluid dexterity, and Raphaelle turning her haunting falsetto into a belted banshee cry.
Her voice was star of the night; whether channeling 90’s R&B/dance singers, or her other Montreal contemporary Grimes, it was startingly pitch perfect and cut right through the noise. At moments when she would sustain a particularly long, soulful note, the crowd cheered her on.
Despite their LP’s title Untogether, Blue Hawaii were in true harmony last night, feeding off each other’s energy and bringing even their most tempered songs to new life. If you missed their sold out show and won’t be making it to Texas for their next one, check out their album that’s out on Artubus Records.
By: Julie Shore