LOS ANGELES — Although there is an argument to be made that its sound is slightly dated, Black Marble manages to approach ‘80s-inspired, lo-fi pastiche with an inventive mindset that resonates with many other lo-fi, gothy electronic acts making music today. With a cold Friday in January as backdrop, Black Marble’s melodic tendencies and sporadic dance flair-ups were on full display at the Lodge Room in Los Angeles, their second stop of a brief California tour.
The New York band kicked off its headlining performance with the danceable self-titled track off 2012 debut album, A Different Arrangement. Vocalist Chris Stewart and co. then performed the industrial-yet-meditative “Woods,” a single off 2016 sophomore album, It’s Immaterial. With “MSQ No-Extra” and “Pretender,” and newer cuts like the spacey “Self Guided Tours” and the shimmering-drone of “Frisk,” it became clear Black Marble was shooting for the ebb and flow dynamic between dance and a heavy emotional gravity. Black Marble’s push and pull style, which wandered between hip-shaking and hip-swaying, forced fans to detach and focus on steadiness aside from its flashier moments.
Atmospheric-driven sets aren’t always the most fun concerts to experience. In fact, they can become a little tedious. Yet Stewart’s work occupies a space that is more than a transient ambient drift. His withering voice communicates an infectious depressive state, an untethered melancholy that few are able to devise among a packed, happy-sad dance party. As Stewart’s heavily distorted vocals help devise an aura that is utterly all-encompassing and simultaneously intimate, it’s the fusion of voice with weighty synths and driving production that makes these elements translate seamlessly live. Though the band has a relatively static stage presence, the cascading atmosphere it creates keeps Black Marble’s set seductive and equally affecting in eliciting raw emotion.
Once the welcoming sentiment in the form of “Iron Lung” reared its head as the set’s closer, Black Marble demonstrated that good music doesn’t have to be completely revolutionary. Good music can simply be the effortless execution of a well-worn style, supported by high-quality songwriting. With an opening isolated bass line that hooks while shrouded in a dreamy haze, “Iron Lung” had the crowd moving and cheering in a frenzy. Then the mystifying bridge hit, enrapturing fans with power funneled through heavy reverb and distortion. While there are certain things nostalgia cannot fulfill, Black Marble continues to perfect the mix between revivalism and a precise vision defined by reinvention.
Electro-industrial band Girl Pusher injected an immediate shot of adrenaline into an increasingly swarming crowd to start the night. Donning cowboy boots, overalls, mangled makeup and a shaved head, Girl Pusher frontwoman Gabby Giuliano put on an unhinged performance that was both off-putting and awesome in a maligned way. She belted out the lyrics with impassioned fury and gave off the sense that she is absolutely dedicated to her craft.
Accompanied by the blistering drumming of bandmate Jarrod Hine, the performance and sound of this hellish duo blended in darkwave, industrial and post-core elements. Girl Pusher expanded upon electronic music with a screeching and an in-your-face attitude.
The second act of the night, Geneva Jacuzzi, put on a vivid display of noise and unadulterated abrasiveness. The on-stage personality of Geneva Jacuzzi may very well be the love-child of Siouxsie Sioux’s cryptic allure and the no-holds barred demeanor of Charli XCX. But even then it is incredibly difficult to capture her pop-infused, art installation-esque antics.
Geneva Jacuzzi’s sound is glitzy, dark and enjoyable in a twisted sort of way. She performed without a band, instead focusing on interacting with the crowd and a stage show filled with symbolism and inflatable bubbles a-la the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne. Her performance Friday was a welcomed surprise and the perfect contrast to Black Marble’s spiritual posture of sound.
Follow writer Kyle Kohner at Twitter.com/kylejkohner.