Words by Brett Uddenberg. Photos by April Siqueiros.
With his “Ocean Death” EP set for release on May 6, LA-based producer/vocalist Baths (Will Wiesenfeld) took to the Bowery Ballroom stage alongside his touring partner Morgan Greenwood for an explosive set of glitchy electronic compositions.
Scottish alt-hip hop trio Young Fathers opened the show with unbridled, manic intensity, playing tracks from their anticon debut “Dead” as well as the two EPs that preceded it, backed by a solitary drummer. The energy of Kayus Bankole’s dance moves during songs like “Get Up” and “Rumbling” was worth the price of admission alone. Young Fathers are amongst the most exciting and original acts I’ve come across in the past two years, equally adept at harmonizing and rapping under a virtually uncategorizable soundscape.
They closed with “I Heard,” and left the stage with a brazen drone blaring in the background as the sold out crowd sang along to a hypnotic, undulating chorus of “Inside I’m feeling dirty / It’s only cause I’m hurting.” The current run opening for Baths marks the group’s first official US tour. New York City won’t be forgetting the name anytime soon.
“Tall rock shelf, are you maybe here to help me hurt myself? / Miasma sky, would you swallow me alive?” Wiesenfeld pondered on the set opening “Miasma Sky.”
A sizable portion of Baths’ Bowery set was culled from “Obsidian,” the nihilistic follow-up LP to his buoyant debut, “Cerulean.” Inspired by a gruesome ordeal with E. coli that kept Wiesenfeld bedridden for months, “Obsidian” is a blunt confrontation with mortality and eroding relationships.
In the three years since I saw him perform at The Loft in La Jolla, Wiesenfeld has largely shed the DJ label and become a new performer entirely. The addition of Greenwood to Baths’ touring lineup has expanded the canvas drastically, with Greenwood’s guitar and keys complementing Wiesenfeld’s synth and keyboard work. The duo improvised on various button-mashing sessions, highlighted by the apocalyptic breakdown of “No Eyes.” Wiesenfeld has also grown in the vocal department with an impressive range meandering between a quavering falsetto and abrasive growl, often in the same song. He remains charmingly awkward when addressing the crowd, augmenting his banter with self-deprecation and hilariously timed vocal effects.
Following a riveting set, Baths acquiesced to encore pleas and reemerged to play a couple tracks from Cerulean before a sea of drunken smiles exited the Bowery Ballroom.