Matthew Dear live at the Mid Chicago
by Joshua P. Ferguson
originally published on the Time Out Chicago blog
Summing up my high points of 2010, I had a lot of great things to say about Ann Arbor techno whiz Matthew Dear and his latest studio album, Black City. Basically, I pointed out that Dear is clearly on this earth to provide us with some of the best workouts that contemporary techno has to offer, and he’s proving he can do much more than that. Expanding on his framework of steely beats and synthesized textures, Dear has set out on a definitive pop path with Black City. This is something he’s been flirting with for quite sometime, but it’s here that it all comes together.
Which also makes for an infinitely more engaging live show. Sure he’s got some of that DJ awkwardness to work through before he’ll be the perfect, engaging frontman but the way his songs develop live lend more than enough personality on their own. Hypnotic, deeply druggy and pulling in influences that range from New Order to Nine Inch Nails, Dear has nailed the techno pop sound, and the crowd at the Mid was certainly feeling it.
The set stuck mostly to the new album, stunning us with their live renditions of stand out cuts like “I Can’t Feel,” “Slow Dance” and “Black City.” I even found myself rethinking how I felt about cuts like “Monkey,” which I didn’t previously care for. It took a few songs, but the people in the audience were well loose by the time Dear and his band played their final notes on the 2007 stand out “Don & Sherri.”
And given the way the night was arranged—two band performances that still left a full four hours of late-night DJ sets from Lee Foss and Orchard Lounge—the energy in the Mid’s compact main room was perfect to let the DJs take over for the rest of evening without missing a beat.