Hot new dubstep thing James Blake (not the tennis player) played very his first U.S. show last night, at Music Hall of Williamsburg, on the eve of heading down to Austin for a handful of SXSW performances, to a very excited crowd featuring the above. The buzz has been deafening around the 22-year-old dubstep producer, who released his first proper album, a self-titled disc, in February, after a busy year-plus spent creating a host of sounds that put him on the sonic map, including a cover of Feist’s “Limit to Your Love” that worked its way from underground club play and web torrents to heavy rotation on British radio.
Twenty-three-year-old Blake is a classically-trained pianist who studied at London’s Goldsmiths University, and while that background is unquestionably there, it’s not what you remember. (And you hardly get a sense of his avowed influences, either: Bon Iver, Stevie Wonder, Thom Yorke and R Kelly.) The music: heavy, wall-quaking bass, vocoders and vocal loops galore, plenty of silences, and Blake’s own vocals, with an indie rock and R&B backbone.
Catch video of Blake’s MHOW U.S. debut last night, below. And don’t bother trying to buy tickets for his return dates in May at Bowery Ballroom and Le Poisson Rouge—sold out, and how.