Baths may just be one guy, but when he takes the stage, 21-year-old Will Wiesenfeld transforms into a charismatic and engaging tour de force. Whether it’s lurching back and forth as he fiddles with knobs and sliders or mouthing the words to his own samples while gesticulating wildly, there’s no reason not to love him. He’s just there to bring a good time, and judging by the crowd’s reactions the other night at Seattle’s Chop Suey, he succeeded.
Due to tardy friends and a pesky no re-entry policy, we were only able to catch glimpses of first opener Gobble Gobble through the door. But if the ecstatic yells and flashing strobes were any indication, the glitch-tronic dance pop pioneers put on a heck of a show. Heard through the walls were favorites like “Eat Sun, Son” and “Lawn Knives,” two impeccably frenetic tunes fused with 8bit yelps and stuttering drums that brought huge roars of appreciation from an already-sweaty crowd.
Following a slow setup, second opener Braids proved to be worth the wait. The young foursome looked barely out of high school, but once they picked up their instruments it seemed as though they were wizened bandmates. Live, their neo-psychedelic tunes took on a new spirit, rollicking through tunes from their fantastic debut Native Speaker. Lead singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston alternatively sung quietly and yelled like a maniac, sometimes switching in the same line, always perfect – impressive, even more so considering when she addressed the crowd between songs, her voice sounded completely shot. “I’ve got a trivia question for you guys,” she said between coughing and blowing her nose. “How many hours did it take us to drive here?” The answer? Fifteen.
After Braids’ captivating set, it was time for the main event. Baths set up quickly, and lurched right into his album opener “Apologetic Shoulderblades,” featuring a pastoral choir before his schizophrenic backbeats set in. Instantly, the all-ages crowd was caught moving, some of the more inspired white-indie-kid dancing this side of Starfucker. Wiesenfeld seemed oblivious to his own popularity, continually glancing at the crowd in awkward surprise. During the introduction to fan-favorite “Aminals,” the crowd let out a massive roar of approval, causing him to stumble backwards, laughing while exclaiming, “Holy shit! That song hasn’t even started yet!” In the middle of the track, there’s a sample of a child making snarling Tyrannosaurus Rex noises; naturally, he made his arms into the little dinosaur arms while the crowd growled in time with the clip.
This kind of casual showmanship showcases how easy it is to fall in love with Baths. Even the unfamiliar new tracks he debuted were met with adoration by the crowd, including a particularly dark house-y track whose grumbling bass literally shook the walls. His own screams of “Bury your body in my graveyard” were met with screams of approval as the lights ran red.
Though the encore lasted for only one song – “I’m really bad at this,” Wiesenfeld admitted, “I hate making people wait,” – it was a stirring moment of further bliss in an already joyous room. Not a fan could be found who wasn’t covered in sweat, with the biggest of smiles plastered on their face, breathlessly anticipating the next time Baths comes to town.