Chill on the Hill – 2015
Chill on the Hill is going to be the Summer’s Last Stand music festival for us here in Detroit. HowWasItDetroit.com is going to be there to take in the sights, smells (odors?), tastes and, as always, the sounds. Make sure you come back next week to see a review of the event. Anyone going to #COTH (eh, might have to change that hashtag) this weekend must make sure to see one particular act: Robert DeLong.
DeLong is a 29-year-old electronic musical mad-scientist from Washington state. You probably would be most familiar with his radio breakthrough song “Long Way Down.” Despite being a solo electronic act since only 2013, he got his start as a jazz drummer at the age of 10. DeLong’s sound isn’t the most unique; he actual fits in nicely to the overwhelming popularity of dance club, electronic jams. DeLong takes a genre that sometimes lacks soul, and transplants the heart of a jazz drummer into it. But DeLong isn’t quite a DJ, not quite a band, and way much more than just a singer… so what the hell is he?
Remember how blown away you would be to hear how LCD Soundsystem was just one guy in a studio, James Murphy? “Wait, that song ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ was performed by one guy?” Impressive, but more impressive was how many musicians needed live to make that sound. Watch the final concert from LCD Soundsystem, there has to be at least eight musicians up there, not to mention the backup singers. Now, imagine if James Murphy made music that was a little more pop and he played EVERYTHING on his own along with singing the lyrics at a live performance. Well, then my friends, you would have Robert DeLong.
One of the most notable aspects of a Robert DeLong live performance is his stage setup. A bevy of electronic knobs and switches are to be expected, but a Wii controller? Is that a Neo-Geo joystick up there? Did he just use a steering wheel to dub his vocal track in? Yes, yes, and yes. DeLong has a stage setup best described affectionately as “trash day at a retro gaming shop,” but he is making anything but trash. His drumming roots aren’t far from him either; you will always see a conventional series of drums on the end of his mad-scientist workstation to provide a rhythm to keep you moving and the party going.
The interesting pieces that make his sound also provide one of the most unique performances you’ll see at Chill on the Hill. Since most of the music he is producing is coming from a mid-80s game controller, you never get the same thing twice. Anyone familiar with the undependable controls of an NES knows. Forget whatever you heard on his music video for Long Way Down, it’s not going to sound the same; it’s going to be better and more improvised. DeLong has been a personal favorite of Jimmy Kimmel, having him perform twice on his ABC late-night show, and those live performances won’t be anything like you will see this Sunday. Everything is alive, from his synth, to his vocals, to his dancing, to you. And isn’t that what every mad scientist wants in the end? To have us scream “It’s Alive!”
Don’t miss Robert DeLong. Performance is at 4:35 pm at the Main Stage. Also, a DJ set at the Silent Disco at 6 pm.
Chill on the Hill will be September 12 & 13 at Freedom Hill in Sterling Heights. Tickets are available.
Full Lineup includes: Weezer, Cage the Elephant, Panic! At the Disco, Andrew McMahon, Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr, and more.