Emilie Simon, Sunny Levine and Lucas Hass Live
September 8th Roxy Theatre, Hollywood, CA
The Emile has landed. The out-of-this-world French songstress set up shop for a very special one-night only performance at the Roxy in West Hollywood. Not only was the show an electronic extravaganza down to its very technical detail, it introduced the beloved Parisian to a new, unsuspecting audience on American soil. The composer, singer-songwriter torn down the Sunset Strip with a smashing live set on a memorable Tuesday night.
Before Emilie Simon took the stage, plenty of acts and atmosphere occupied the time of one fortunate Racket intern such as myself. First off, I could not get over the morbid black scenery of the Roxy itself: black walls, black floor and black curtains. Even the steps leading up to the bar had black carpeting. I’m over it. The only visible contrast was the disco ball looming over the dance floor. Arriving dreadfully early, I thought I could get away with sitting at a table, but to no avail. No V.I.P. status. However those steps to the bar made for a good place to sit.
Despite that failed attempt to sit comfortably at a table, the opening acts Sunny Levine and Lucas Haas did their best to lift my spirits. For those who couldn’t get enough of the acoustic guitar, sensitive musician-types, they came to the right place. Each act had such a mellow vibe that the dim lighting only heightened the effect. In the end, these opening acts paled in comparison to the main event that is Emilie Simon.
These traditional bands seemed outdated in contrast to Simon’s mechanical devices that seemed to mesmerize the audience and forced whispers about all her contraptions that added to the electronic flair to her show. Once the beautiful songbird landed on stage, all eyes focused on her musical styling and talent. For instance, she sported an armband that magically controlled the tempos and beats of each song. It was stunning, like something out of a science fiction movie. She punched away at buttons on this octopus-looking device during and between songs that apparently needed the help of a MAC laptop. In this day and age, especially in the hip-hop music scene right now, voice synthesizing is a popular trend hitting the airwaves. Simon takes this sound engineering technique to a whole new level. As if her high-pitched singing voice wasn’t enough. The way she manipulated her voice with the technology that was literally at her fingertips was remarkable. It is as if an entire choir had her back the entire time.
Throughout the show, peering behind a gigantic electronic keyboard and tangled wires, stood a humble musician that flip-flopped saying “merci” and “thank you” in between songs. Wearing a black, elastic tube-top dress, Simon debuted new material on her upcoming, untitled album due out next year.
Simon won acclaim for her work on the soundtrack to the French version of the successful documentary, “March of the Penguins,” entitled “La Marche de l’empereur” in 2005. A daughter of a sound engineer generated more buzz when she became “Artist of the Day” in 2006 by Spin magazine; they dubbed her as the French Bjork.
After relocating to New York City, Emilie Simon is currently playing shows in the United States. “The Flower Book” (2006) and “March of the Express” (2007) collectively cement her American debut under Milan Records.
From seeing her show at the Roxy, Emilie Simon is truly an innovative and welcome addition to the musical landscape.
– Gail Navarro