Karen O and Danger Mouse teamed up earlier this year to bring us a 9 track album titled, Lux Prima. The following month, at the Marciano Art Foundation, they premiered a multi-sensory art installation, “An Encounter with Lux Prima” over the course of only 4 days. Obviously, it sold out almost as soon as it was announced. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the lucky people to grab a ticket for that event (fortune is rarely on my side when it comes to high demand, short-run events, raffles or lottery tickets). This weekend, though, opportunity did knock on my door as I managed to grab a last-minute photo pass to go see them live at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Downtown LA. It was the first of two live shows they played this weekend. In theory, their only live performances of Lux Prima. I do hope they reconsider and schedule some more.
Lux Prima is a lustful album with a beautiful mix of '60s French orchestral-pop, '70s Motown-infused soul and disco, and some '90s trip-hop. The sound is characterized both by Danger Mouse’s unmistakable production and Karen O’s pungent lyrics and nimble vocal work. It is sparse and atmospheric, yet filled deep with layers of lush instrumentation. For these two performances, the set up included two small ensembles of strings and background vocals, laptop and Mellotron, as well as the usual drums, guitar, bass and keys. As demonstrated by their art installation this past April, not only the sound, but also the visuals are an integral part of Lux Prima, and so the light design and stage production took on an important role. A multitude of fluorescent tubes, set up vertically all over the stage, added depth and intensity to the gorgeous overhead floodlights and spotlights, which at several points in the performance conspired to project two overlapping light cones, a recurring theme with Lux Prima.
It all came together as a hypnotic experience during the performance. The dreamy cinematic nature of the songs was taken to another level by a solid energetic performance as they performed the album in its entirety. Karen O seemed to be having the time of her life, constantly giggling and smiling. Almost like a kid who just got new shoes at her birthday party and is sharing that moment with all her friends and loved ones, ecstatic and full of joy. In contrast, Dangerous Mouse kept a more serious and focused tone throughout. Still, little smirks here and there revealed that inside he was having just as good of a time as Karen was…and so we all did. Special mention is also due to Karen’s wardrobe, which was nothing short of fantastic. She looked like a futuristic Belle Époque queen from a retro galaxy. I won’t attempt to describe it further, you’ll have to take a look.
Thanks for the journey guys, I’m glad luck was on my side this time and I got to experience the magic of your collaboration.