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Review: Gotye exceeds expectations, impresses in first Columbus show

Stephen Cameron / For The Lantern

Wouter “Wally” De Backer, better known as Gotye, proved he’s more than just a one hit wonder in his first Columbus performance.

Continuously moving about the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion stage and shifting from various instruments, the Belgian-Australian artist, along with a four-piece band, demonstrated his diverse musical talents in an almost 95-minute performance.

Gotye kicked off his nearly 20-song set at about 9:15 p.m. to a packed, chanting crowd that was eager to greet the headliner. Gotye jumped from a drum kit on the tail end of the stage to several other percussion and synth-based instruments for the duration of the night. One could argue percussion breakdowns took over the show.

The artist encouraged crowd participation throughout the night from a singalong to clapping and harmony exercises, and the audience certainly obliged.

“Can you help us out with this next tune,” he said before asking the audience to sing harmonies of the song “Save Me.”

Opening band Zammuto, led by Nick Zammuto, took the stage a few minutes after 7 p.m. with “The Shape of Things to Come,” followed by “Too Late to Topologize,” accompanied by a large video screen behind the four-piece band showcasing slow motion finger skateboarding.

“This song is called ‘Zebra Butt’ and it’s about zebra butts,” Zammuto said midway through the band’s set, as several photos of zebra behinds and faces took shape behind him, eliciting laughter from the crowd.

The use of progressive-rock elements and visual components allowed for an admirable way to interact with the audience members and started the night off on an interesting foot.

Electropop band Chairlift took the stage next with singer Caroline Polachek letting out a high-pitched, opera-like scream before launching into “Sidewalk Safari.”

I was impressed with Polachek’s elegant vocals through Chairlift’s set, which included the songs “Wrong Opinion,” “Ghost Tonight,” “Amanaemonesia” and “I Belong in Your Arms,” which was sung completely in Japanese, excluding the chorus.

However, Polachek’s twirling and flailing arms resembled more of a karate routine than dance moves and were quite distracting.

“Everyone’s going to have the best time ever with Gotye,” Polachek said before heading off stage, but that wasn’t the last we saw of her.

The behavior of the crowd and the atmosphere as a whole hit a predictable climactic point when Polachek returned for Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” the song that earned him his popularity. I couldn’t see a person in the room who wasn’t singing along and belting the lyrics, “but you didn’t have to cut me off.”

Gotye ended his set with “Hearts a Mess,” before taking a short break and returning for a three-song encore consisting of “Seven Hours with a Backseat Driver,” “I Feel Better” and “Learnalilgivinanlovin.” By this time the bottom pit became more of a dance floor for the remaining fans.

Gotye’s astonishing drum technique and solos left me awe-struck throughout the performance, wondering how I wasn’t aware of how brilliant this man was before.

I walked into the LC Pavilion Monday expecting a mediocre night from an artist with one successful song, but I left with a new appreciation for these talented musicians and their eclectic expertise – and Gotye’s “I Feel Better” stuck in my head, thanks to singing fans outside the venue.

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