The dapper Canadian electro-funk duo Chromeo, made up of lead singer David Macklovitch and keyboardist Patrick Gemayel, played in Eugene for the first time on Wednesday night, two days after the band was featured as an answer on Monday night’s Jeopardy! and two nights shy of Halloween.
Bros in blazers and headbands filed into the McDonald Theater by the score. Some were dressed for a job interview. Others looked outfitted for a ‘80s discotheque. Fittingly enough, the aesthetic of Chromeo, with its effortless blend of retroactive funk and modern dance, falls somewhere right in between.
The night of Oct. 29 was a two-course meal for many. This evening shared both the Chromeo show and the vital Game 7 of the World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants, which was being shown in the McDonald Theater’s lounge.
Australian house musician Thomas Purcell, under the moniker Wave Racer, opened up the show at 8 p.m., in the game’s ninth inning stretch. He supplied a maximalist, swiftly moving 60-minute set of a genre known as dofflin: a cluster of samples, hip-hop beats and mellow synths set to a high tempo. Wave Racer pogoed behind his laptop and borrowed innumerable samples, including Kanye West, DJ Class and Big Sean.
The set ended abruptly when the 19-year-old bid Eugene a good night, flashed a peace sign and walked off stage. He was so good and is such a master of his own craft at such a young age, in fact, that he left one question on the audience’s collective mind: Is Wave Racer the Madison Bumgarner of Australian house DJs? The answer was too soon to say.
Chromeo has released four albums, including 2010’s Business Casual and this year’sWhite Women, the pair’s most commercially successful record to date. White Womenincludes a number of noteworthy collaborations, including with Solange Knowles, Toro y Moi, Ezra Koenig (who’s also on Business Casual) and LCD Soundsystem’s Pat Mahoney.
The Chromeo set began with a big, glossy bang. Lights streamed from side-to-side, creating an almost jail-cell like barrier between the band and the audience.
Frequent bursts of bright lights showed that mostly everything on stage was reflective, from the hexagonal drum sets to the walls behind the band. When Macklovitch stepped forward during the night’s opener “Night By Night,” sporting an all-leather get-up and justifiable sunglasses, the stage lights swiveled in his direction. He swayed as his (naturally) chrome-plated guitar reflected and gleamed on the audience members, who were graciously blinded by the power of the funk. Along with the stellar performance of“Don’t Turn the Lights On,” Chromeo retrofitted the McDonald Theater for a very solid 90 minutes.
Macklovitch and Gemayel have debonair kind-of camaraderie; they take care of each other, fix each other’s collars and lean back-to-back while they play their shiny guitars. The lyrical content is monothematic, mostly written about trivial guy-at-a-party problems. It’s silly, but ultimately endearing. This is especially evident on “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)” or the track “Over Your Shoulder.” During the latter, a track equally blazoned with smoky synths and paranoia, Macklovitch requested that the men in the crowd support the ladies on their shoulders.
Even though it’s a band performing electro-funk – a genre that peaked some decades ago – Chromeo is certainly not a nostalgic act. It stitches together the bygone and the futuristic for an all-out electric light dance party that feels transplanted from a different epoch. It’s already been made abundantly clear that everything is chrome in the future, so maybe Chromeo isn’t behind the times; maybe it knows something we don’t.