half·alive at Commodore Ballroom

Share the experience...

So few artists try anything truly new. Clichés abound in music, and you become accustomed to the routine, and generally put up with it because it is only fleeting: a step to be crossed to get to the music. Every once in a blue moon, however, you see something that no one else is doing, and it haunts you. That is how half·alive captures you from first song to the finale. The start of their set begins with a sheet obscuring your view of the main stage. Odd, since one expects to see the musicians as they perform. Then the lights dim, and the ghostly silhouettes appear. As their song Tip Toes begins the visual surreality of this set up kicks in. Using multiple lights cast upon each instrumentalist they create a visual spectacle unlike any other. It’s almost as if the iPod commercials from the early aughts have come to life.

This is how half·alive performs, creating a holistic of experience of sound and visuals. This is truly embodied through their use of contemporary dancers Jordan Johnson and Aidan Carberry. Throughout the night their rhythmic entanglements add a visual style unique to half·alive. The way they move is almost otherworldly which matches the vibe of the group’s alt-pop styling. The band’s performance, much like the visual flare of the dancing, hits the sweet spot of organic and electric. With clear dance and electronic vibes throughout, they still give off an almost acoustic feel. If mythical wood nymphs dabbled in EDM, I feel they would create something akin to half·alive. 

Everything rhythmically hits a pocket that seems off, but always right. Brett Kramer does this through tempo shifts, and varied rhythms that always delight and surprise. It scratches an itch that you never even knew you had. This peculiarity, yet mesmerizing, quality would not be possible if not for J. Tyler Johnson’s directed bass work. He is the heartbeat behind the complexly layered rhythms. This is all rounded out by lead singer Josh Taylor’s fantastic range. He has an undefinable quality, much like the whole of h·a. His tone from his low end to his falsetto hits all the marks, and when combined with his harmonizer and effects, the group creates a transcendent whole, that is not easily forgotten.

All taken into account, this was less of a concert, and more performance art. You never feel pandered to, but you always feel drawn in. They have crafted a live show that delivers a multi-sensory experience that produces wonder and awe, not through shock or bombastic spectacle, but through intricate beauty. A trend that I hope continues to grow throughout live music.

Share the experience...