Concert Preview: Active Child at the Black Cat

You’re done with midterms (unless you have a sadistic, life-sucking professor, that is)! Vox thinks a celebratory outing is definitely in check.

On Monday, November 11, Active Child will bless the Black Cat with his ethereal voice.

Working under the stage name Active Child, electronic music artist Pat Grossi has made quite a name for himself in the music world. His first EP, entitled Curtis Lane, left critics raving over his music. Contributor Paul Thompson of Pitchfork Media, for example, called Grossi “prodigious,” with his remarkable way of creating songs that “feel at once rather humble and astronomically huge.” The general consensus over the short, six-track EP was that its sheer beauty was overwhelming.

Grossi’s transformative sound probably has something to do with the fact that he has a rich musical background and an ear for mixing and melding diverse genres and sounds. From the early days of his musical career, in which he sang as a choir boy, to his most recent bedroom-pop projects, Grossi has proven to have a wide range of talents.

His vocal sound is so multi-faceted that he has toured alongside musicians of very different genres, including dubstep and synth-pop artists like James Blake and School of Seven Bells and indie-rock bands like White Lies and White Rabbits.

And, in addition to his dreamy yet commanding falsetto voice, Grossi is a skilled harpist. Not only is the harp an extremely difficult instrument to play in its traditional more classical form, it is even more difficult to add to the modern, dreamy synth-pop that Grossi makes. As Thompson describes it, “The harp’s far from the focus…but coupled with [Grossi’s] voice, it provides a organic counterpoint to the synthetic sounds constantly shuffling underneath him.”

While Grossi’s first full-length album, You Are All I See, received high praise from major media outlets like Pitchfork and Drowned in Sound upon its release in 2011, his most recent EP, Rapor, was less well-received by the same music critics. Originally, they commended his unique sound and outside-the-box approach of combining classical and modern music. Now, however, they criticize the way he has begun to force himself into the typical mold of his genre, calling him another James Blake or Bon Iver. 

The most disappointing part is that Grossi has started to abandon the harp on his most recent tracks. Instead, the sophisticated harp undertones of his previous work are replaced by louder beats, more poppy synths, and a step backwards from cutting-edge artistic adaptation and expression to another rendition of the disappointing electronic modern pop that the music world is full of right now.

Nonetheless, Vox has faith that the criticism Grossi has met will encourage him to rethink his position as an artist and revisit the place he started for new inclination and inspiration to move back to his original sound. And, even if his new EP isn’t as pristine as his previous album and EP, his show will undoubtedly be something worth seeing, especially for only $15. 

Be sure to watch Active Child’s beautiful video for “Hanging On” below.

Photo: LanewayFestival via Flickr

One Comment on “Concert Preview: Active Child at the Black Cat

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