Live Review: How to Dress Well, Babe Rainbow, and Rimar at Public AssemblyPosted by Tarin Fasano
Public Assembly is a converted mayonnaise factory in Williamsburg. There isn’t any mayonnaise-related machinery in there or anything so that’s only cool in theory. The front room, where How to Dress Well performed, is just a generic basement. Acoustics were good, lighting was dim, and the space was packed to the point of being a fire hazard (how else do you measure crowd density?).
How To Dress Well is Brooklyn’s Tom Krell, creator of excruciatingly genuine and refreshingly experimental R&B. Before performing, Krell asked for a series of sound system adjustments. Sometimes musicians don’t notice or don’t care about terrible audio set-ups, but he knew exactly what sort of sound he wanted and how to get it. How to Dress Well is tall and skinny and a little bit bashful. He was wearing shorts and hiking boots, and his hands would creep up inside his shirt as his croon crept up into a falsetto. Every so often the instrumentals would dissipate, and How to Dress Well’s voice would pierce the silence. Against a projected set of visuals (many of an ethereal old Asian woman), he grimaced from emotion. How to Dress Well mostly sings about love, but in such a specific, personal sense. The entire crowd was paralyzed with rapt attention. Except for an obliviously adoring girl that kept shouting “That’s my DUDE!” from the front row.
The opening act was fine – a fellow named Rimar dropped some idiosyncratic beats and rapped a bit too. Unfortunately his mic was too quiet, so the contents of his half-heartedly reckless flow remained a mystery. Rimar’s beats were hard to dance to, precocious and tripping over themselves. Every so often he’d ease into a really sticky beat which would resonate in your chest. (What’s up with the t-shirt though? He’s not from Ohio, just went to school there. Is there a hidden pun?)
Special guest Babe Rainbow was a bit of a letdown. He did a mediocre DJ set after Rimar, featuring an extended mix of Carly Rae Jepsen’s song ”Call Me Maybe” which exhibits lyrics such as, “Hey / I just met you / And this is crazy / But here’s my number / So call me maybe!” Slowing a bad song down doesn’t make it better unless it’s chopped and screwed beyond recognition. Babe Rainbow was also not as charming as his name made him sound, scarcely making eye contact or exhibiting any emotion during the show. He and a violinist accompanied How to Dress Well for his set, and that was wholly excellent, but that was mostly thanks to How To Dress Well’s doing.
In the wake of alright openers, How to Dress Well’s performance made sure to deliver quality entertainment. It can’t be stressed enough how raw and sincere How to Dress Well’s performance was. After the show I asked how he could let himself be so vulnerable in front of so many people. He said it’s difficult but inebriation helps. Also, he figures that anyone who came out to the show likes his music and is therefore a friend. Make sure to catch How to Dress Well’s next album dropping this September.