Better Than: Dancing anywhere else last night.
From the moment singer Aluna Francis stepped on stage in a white, boxing-esque robe with the other half of her electro-R&B duo George Reid, the pair had already won. In front of a sold out crowd at the Bowery Ballroom, the U.K.’s AlunaGeorge played their first New York show as if they had been lifetime scene vets.
Having only album under the belt–July’s Body Music–AlunaGeorge kept their set simple and constantly moving with barely any stage banter and a consistent stream of songs off the album. “Just a Touch” opened the set, and Aluna’s soulful yet childlike voice cooing “I love it when I see you having fun” set the pace for the evening as she and her bandmates loosened up on the venue’s stage.
From early on, Aluna’s strut, command, and prowess as a performer made her look like a seasoned pop star as she cooly invited the lively crowd to sing along by brandishing the microphone towards us during choruses. Paired with the R&B base of many of the duo’s songs, she became the lead example for how to properly move to the chill-but-often-sultry beats of each song.
Not too long after an exhilarating delivery and response to “You Know You Like It,” Body Music‘s lead single, came their popular cover of Montell Jordan’s ’90’s R&B classic “This Is How We Do It.”
The song, which is also a bonus track on their debut album, is taken just as seriously as any of their originals–this ain’t no broke-ass karaoke version. (Respekt the Montel Jordan.) While maintaining the fun beckoned in opener “Just a Touch,” AlunaGeorge found a way to appreciate the ’90s without giving into the cheesiness of ’90s nostalgia as they paid homage to an era of a genre that has most directly influenced a sound they’ve managed to keep sounding current.
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The night was capped off with two heavyweight tracks–their collaboration with Disclosure titled “White Noise” and the album’s second single “Your Drums, Your Love.” The latter is probably the most perfect exhibit of what AlunaGeorge delivers so perfectly in combining electronic music with old school R&B. George’s production compliments Aluna’s swooning words and vocals in a dreamy way. The only bummer part of the upbeat night was that there was no encore.
Critical Bias: ’90s nostalgia is more compelling when packaged in a surprisingly modern and unique way.
Overheard: “God, I’m so glad they didn’t suck live.”
AlunaGeorge plays Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight, 9/6.