When I first arrived at Santa Barbara, I don’t think I would have enjoyed Goldroom’s music. I didn’t quite understand the S.B. vibe. Where was the constantly raging party school I had heard of from friends and been warned about by relatives? Is Isla Vista a college town or sleepy beach community? How are there so many bro tanks and Hawaiian shirts on Earth? It took me a few months to understand the University of California, Santa Barbara’s “work hard, play hard (when you want to), lay back and chill otherwise” culture.
Now that I’ve been here a while, I can safely say Goldroom perfectly embodies the UCSB ethos. For those unfamiliar with the artist, American electronic producer Josh Legg — stage name Goldroom — came to perform in the Hub last Thursday. His music is, as Legg described it in an interview with the Boston Globe, “dance music for the backyard, dance music for the beach.”
Legg mixes a diverse pallet of influences and instruments to produce a fresh, warm sound. Hip-hop or dubstep rhythms played on a rock drum kit sound natural next to maraca or bongo undertones. Electric guitar and slapping bass guitar blast comfortably along with smooth keyboard and synths.
Goldroom fans consider Legg’s songwriting ability to be his ultimate skill. Lyrics about relationships, loneliness, hook-ups and confusion layer over Legg’s organic electronic production. For readers who aren’t Goldroom fans, an example from their hit single “Till Sunrise”: “From out the mist we’ll reappear/Floating away in a daydream/So was it real? I’m not so clear/We open our eyes to a sunbeam.”
Having only heard a few Goldroom songs before his concert — and having never been to a concert in the Hub before — I went in with few expectations. With the chairs and tables cleared around the stage and pleasant red and blue lighting shedding a dim glow, the Hub becomes a hip(ish) venue. Inaccessible to me, the counter in the Hub divided off a 21-and- over area where students bought drinks. As the warm-up act progressed, the line to buy pitchers of beer steadily grew.
Goldroom and his band started their set at 10:30 with little fanfare and a lot of funk. Nikki Segal sang alongside Goldroom and almost stole the show with her fantastic pitch and tone control. Singing the female vocals prominent in many of Goldroom’s songs, she perfectly matched the tone used by the various singers in the actual recordings. Her vocal range and sheer versatility were incredible.
Not to be outdone, Goldroom himself crooned the pretty but dazed lyrics of “Till Sunrise”. He exhibited an impressive vocal range of his own on his 2012 single “Sweetness Alive.” Legg further displayed his talents playing guitar and keyboard throughout the concert.
An enthusiastic bassist and a crisp percussion team — I have rarely seen maracas or bongos played with such finesse — rounded out the ensemble nicely. Smooth bass lines and disco beats could melt away to banging thumps and electronic synths in an instant.
While Legg and crew performed a good show, Legg himself displayed limited personality. Legg, who has been stuck at the same level of fame for the past few years, could elevate his concerts above a sunny dance party. He needs more than smiles, head bobs and nice words to bring some energy in the show. A more enthusiastic light show would also live up the performance. Or maybe Legg is happy to totally embody the sunny energy of his music and I shouldn’t judge.
Regardless, the crowd steadily built energy as the concert progressed. When Goldroom played his 2014 single “Embrace,” the crowd went wild. After a few more songs and an encore, the band abruptly left. Everyone dissipated into the cool night with warm feelings and good vibes.
Goldroom’s music serves well for a summer barbecue, a day-rager or any happy situation where the sun is out and you want to relax. If you’re looking for a chill time with fun dancing, Goldroom will put on a show that you’ll enjoy.