Jamie Lidell, the Only Thing on Television


Son, you’ve got a TV on your head: our hero, the night previous. CREDIT.

Jamie Lidell
Bowery Ballroom
Monday, June 9

So this was more or less like watching five jovial dudes—one playing saxophone in a bathrobe, one playing bass in an Evel Knievel jumpsuit, and one, our leader,doing the best Al Green impression by a white English dude ever—fuck around in a Radio Shack. Lotta hardware up there. Bathrobe Saxophone Man switched briefly to some sort of Nerf-talkbox-clarinet contraption, while Mr. Lidell himself commanded a seemingly random jumble of keyboards, samplers, pedals, laptops. He used to do the whole show himself, just putzing about with this stuff, looping his amateur beatboxing indefinitely, a charming but pretty wonky affair. At least now when he putzes about his bandmates can grab shakers and go dance around in the crowd. Much better.

As dorky retro-soul goes, I’m quite fond of Jamie’s work—2005’s Multiply particularly, but the recent Jim has its charms: If, like Lionel Richie had released “Green Light” people would be going nuts. He’s a Mark Ronson type who doesn’t have to depend on any mercurial ladies for his hooks, his shouts, his chest-beating over-emoting. His stage show, too, is great fun, though profoundly messy: layers of computer beats that don’t quite match up, random bursts of jarring noise, languid jams that don’t stay together long enough for you to pinpoint where exactly they fell apart. His best tunes make rumbling, ominous atonality work for, not against, him: “The City” is still the shit, Bathrobe Saxophone Man skronking along to that slinky bassline. And even when the tunes don’t coalesce, well, shit, the dude’s wearing a TV with a turntable on top of it on his head. That, my friends, is entertainment.