Beneath little more than a white spotlight illuminating his black, curly mop and the face of his acoustic guitar, Jose Gonzalez launched into an hypnotic hour or so of swift finger-picking and gentle crooning at The Pabst Theater last night.
Alone on stage for the first half of his set, Gonzalez coyishly hunched over his instrument and let his haunting songs resonate within the cavernous, still theater. Not much for chitchat, he maintained a steady, insightful rapport with his eager audience through liquid-like strumming and intense concentration on favorites like his subdued cover of The Knife's "Heartbeats" and his own "Crosses" off his wildly successful debut, "Veneer."
During the show's second half vocalist Yukimi Nagamo and percussionist Christopher Berg joined Gonzalez on stage, an addition that further enhanced an already successful exhibition of song. The three engaged in gorgeous harmony for "How Low" off Gonzalez's latest, "In Our Nature."
The beauty of Gonzalez's solo simplicity is his music's ability to easily adapt to accompaniment. Such small additions, like rhythmic handclaps throughout "Love Stain," added depth and projected a dynamic not found in recording, and was a genius way to enlarge a song for a live audience.
The three performers periodically lit up against a foggy, glowing blue backdrop, but the majority of last night's mood was set by a predominantly dark, shadowy ambience -- no doubt a result of Gonzalez's partnership with Reverb, a non-profit organization designed to educate and engage music fans and promote environmental sustainability.
Committed to touring with a green conscious, Gonzalez's entire spring U.S. tour is marked by energy reduction, biodegradable catering products, re-usable water bottles and carbon offsets.
Although the Swedish musician made no mention of his eco-friendly intentions, his poetry and global perspectives of human character suggests a deep love for nature and an intense desire to establish symbiotic relationships between people and their environments.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”