Last year, Los Angeles-based artist Active Child (real name Pat Grossi) made quite a splash with his critically acclaimed debut, You Are All I See, which made many year-end lists (including mine). Though he spent most of the past couple of years as a supporting act, touring with bands such as School of Seven Bells and M83, this is the year where he gets the chance to be the headlining act. And Friday night, he got his chance by playing the Glasshouse in Pomona, the first stop of his nationwide spring tour.
The stage was adorned and decorated with a classical Greek motif. By this, I mean there were numerous faux statues of Greek goddesses that were half-clothed and missing limbs. This turned out to be the most accurate and appropriate dÃ©cor in regards to Active Child in the sense that Grossi is a modern day classicist. He sings with a classically-trained falsetto and plays a harp â€“ I donâ€™t think you can get anymore classical than that unless youâ€™re Mozart.
The backup band made their way out onto the stage, with Grossi pulling in the rear and taking a seat behind his harp. They opened the set with â€œYou Are All I See,â€ then followed it up with â€œHigh Priestessâ€ and â€œShield & Sword,â€ where his angelic falsetto soared to ridiculous heights (perhaps to heaven). Seriously, I (and Iâ€™m sure others as well too) got goose bumps during the part where he sang one of the lines about halfway through the song.
At this point, Grossi moved over behind his synths and laptop for the hip-hop/R&B inspired â€œPlaying House.â€ On record, How To Dress Well provided some guest vocals, but live, Grossi did a good job at handling both vocal duties, making it sound natural and fluid. And if the crowd wasnâ€™t dancing, they definitely did on this song, putting on some of the weirdest dance moves in awhile. For the next song, he pulled out an older number, â€œWhen Your Love Is Safe,â€ from his acclaimed EP, Curtis Lane, which is driven by the heavy electronic percussion and the looped vocals.
To further reinforce the point that Active Child is a classicist, â€œSee Thru Eyesâ€ proves that he can be as romantic as the greatest of Greek poets, singing the lines â€œshe threw her arms around my neck/whispered softly in a foreign tongue/her eyes were see through/tell me your secrets.â€
â€œWay Too Fastâ€ was a percussion-driven number where Grossi and co. added a tribal-like beat as an intro before playing the actual song. The pounding, acoustic percussion created a layered rhythm with the slower, electronic beats that his falsetto glided on top of. For â€œHanging On,â€ he stepped back behind his harp, doing a masterful job at controlling his voice. Throughout the song, he sang each verse with either a high or low register and each transition was seemless, while playing intricate melodies on the harp. They ended the night with â€œJohnny Belinda,â€ an otherworldly number that drew the crowd in with the ethereal synth chords, intricate harp plucking, and steady beats.
For the encore, they began with â€œDiamond Heart,â€ a synth-pop number that gives a slight nod to the 80s, before ending the night with the instrumental number â€œIvy.â€ It was a perfect, yet unexpected set closer that was reminiscent of the post-rock genre. Beginning with a steady bass drum rhythm, synth chords, and harp melodies, the song burst into an explosion at the very last minute that seemed like a chaotic jam session. At the end, the trio thanked the crowd before taking a final bow.
Despite the fact that the show was obviously not sold-out, those that were fortunate to attend saw first-hand the magnificence of Active Child. It was definitely an attention-grabbing set that never let go until the very end. If you havenâ€™t had the pleasure of seeing Active Child live, make sure you donâ€™t miss him on this current tour.
You Are All I See
Shield & Sword
When Your Love Is Safe
See Thru Eyes
Way Too Fast