With his fifth album securely under his belt, a successful avant-pop record label in tow, and nearly a decade of music-making and touring behind him, Matthew Dear is what could be described as road-tested—though one could hardly accuse him of sticking to the map. Each new album has found Dear exploring new territory, but his shadowy, pulsating brand of electronic pop has always managed to find its way home to the warm embrace of critics and fans alike.
Over the years Dear has grown into his frontman status (something he calls “perfecting his inability as a vocalist”), now commanding a full band onstage—a far cry from his roots in minimal techno. As his instrumentation has expanded both onstage and in the studio, Dear has prompted comparisons to luminaries such as Brian Eno, David Bowie and Gary Numan. So it’s probably safe to say that he’s taking the road less traveled.
Opening for Dear is vocal powerhouse Shannon Funchess and synth maestro Bruno Coviello, collectively known as Light Asylum. Described at times as “dangerous” and “brutal,” the Brooklyn duo raised its profile last year when it toured the U.S. with multimedia mavens YACHT. Light Asylum’s seamless blend of new wave, industrial rock and dance music, matched with Funchess’s onstage intensity—giving the impression that she is not so much performing for her listeners as she is challenging them—results in an electrifying show, one more than fit to jump-start the night.—Kristen Zwicker