by Chloe Catajan
Even with some technical difficulties, Will Wiesenfeld of Baths always found his way back into the zone. His Noise Pop show at the Great American Music Hall was his first time playing solo in more than five years. The Los Angeles-based electronic artist, known for putting buoyant beats to the most emotive lyrics, is usually joined by Morgan Greenwood onstage, but had full control Wednesday night.
"The difference when I'm solo is that there's less reliance. When you have two people, you're able to communicate, even without words, and let some of the responsibility go," Wiesenfeld said during our chat before the show. "Playing solo, I kind of have to 'zen state' it. I'm not keeping track with anybody else about what I'm doing. It's more focused."
Wiesenfeld began the show with a disclaimer to the audience about impending mess-ups, letting everyone know that this solo performance would be a journey we were all in together. On top of the rarity of playing alone, this was also the first time he had visuals to go with his set.
Baths opened with "Hall" off 2010's Cerulean and "Out" off 2017's Romaplasm. He then threw things back again to "Lovely Bloodflow," a classic fan favorite. When Wiesenfeld wasn't over his launchpad, he was at the mic switching between every falsetto and scream-sung note seamlessly. Equally clean was the transition going into "Extrasolar," as the backdrop flashed monochromatic visuals and the lyrics, "Get off world," right on cue.
Transitions tethered together most of the songs during Baths' set, or at least they were supposed to. There was a slight flub between "Ocean Death" and "Human Bog," pointed out by Wiesenfeld himself, but he played off any awkwardness like a champ.
"I'm just going to bask in my unprofessional nature tonight," he joked to the audience.
Baths performed a few new songs throughout the night. The first had a bittersweet melody with lyrics about "feeling like shit," while another had a slapping drum track that prompted collective head-nodding from the crowd. He also improvised a remix halfway through the set. "Miasma Sky" off 2013's Obsidian and "Flux" off Pop Music / False B-sides made appearances in the setlist as well, both cuts a definite treat for longtime fans. To cap off the night, Baths debuted one more new track.
Right before, Briana Marela gave electropop a sugary sweet treatment, keeping things upbeat from start to finish. On "Feel What I Feel," a glimmery beat swept across the venue that indeed spread a euphoric mood. Marela's bright vocals were backed by a guitarist and keyboardist that altogether created a full, ethereal soundscape. The newly Oakland-based artist closed her set with some synthy improv and her song "4th Amendment," which she mentioned was written for a Radiolab podcast.
Wizard Apprentice literally stole the crowd's attention as she set up onstage. The crowd, clamorous in between acts, immediately hushed as the electronic music producer did the most melodic mic check ever. She kept the audience completely hooked throughout her set as well, creating an immersive experience that consisted of her live performance and complementary motion graphics. In between songs, a cyber version of herself would appear on screen, engage with the audience and detail the music to come. Every song covered a stage of recovering from an abusive relationship. With minimal beats, Wizard Apprentice's words about healing came through powerfully, all while maintaining a groove.
Oakland's There's Talk warmed up the crowd with a slow-burning set of ambient heaven.
Vocalist-keyboardist Olivia Lee sung softly, sounding straight from a dream against bandmates Kellen Balla's and Young Lee's instrumentals. The drum tracks from Balla would create a propulsive beat, while Young Lee's rhythmic riffage would spell out every song's underlying sentiment.
(Photos: Chloe Catajan)