NXNE Review: Un Blonde22 June 2015 / by Jonathan Rodil (author)
Jean-Sebastien Audet is the Montreal via Calgary 19 year old musician behind Un Blonde. He makes music that amasses elements from all genres and classifying his music may be a disservice, as there isn’t one definable trait that encompasses it. He took the stage at Smiling Buddha at 12:30Am ahead of his originally scheduled 2:30AM timeslot due to open spots on the schedule. This also allowed for longer set times.
Water The Next Day was a project released this year and presented itself as an odd, endearing piece of work. It would appear that convention is commonplace for Un Blonde. I was intrigued to see how Un Blonde’s performance would work in a live setting with instrumentation. Initially, the dissonance and experimental melodic phrasing of the music struck me as a listener.
The entire performance was very straightforward in that only the music mattered.
Introductions and goodbyes? No, there isn’t any time for that. Any form of crowd interaction, aside from introducing the next song? No, just listen.
Audet was in a zone with the music. He stood center stage with stoicism; flanked with accompanying guitarist, keyboardist and drummer. He gave an aura of mystery on stage. Emotions ran through the passionately delivered vocals, reminiscent of revered luminaries D’Angelo and Prince. He adjusted his shawl several times, over and around his face. He stared directly above the crowd and at times performed, facing a lateral direction. The music was played with an intense focus and precision. His performance gave the impression of an elusive figure, a savant of sorts who dedicates themselves completely to the craft of music.
The live performance advanced itself from recordings, yet provided a vague sense familiarity. It was looser and felt like a jam session take of Un Blonde. For instance, “Look” was identifiable, the melody was distinct, but it was in the way it was arranged and adjusted itself for a live setting; a refreshed version, the grooves more bouncy and realized – funked up. In comparison with the recorded material, the essence of it all remained where the guitars featured ambivalent textures, and the individual, distinct layers of that compromised as a whole. Everything was more enhanced and impactful to the senses. The vocals sounded clearer. The live performance polished up the lo-fi feel of the recordings.
The 30 minute set finished abruptly without any warning. As you could have expected another song to come along, that idea was snatched immediately. It was disorienting, much like a sudden awakening of a dream which speaks directly to the potency of the music.
The audience responded in awe. The responses were held to head nods during the performance, and applause and slight cheers after songs. There was nothing that gave the appearance of a strong, outwardly response, but it probably attributed to something more internalized. It was a shock. No one seemed to have any clear expectation of performance. The entire performance was something to process in your own mind, although to be fully aware of what was going on seemed futile. The music laid itself on an entirely, distant platform. Un Blonde may be ahead of the curve, and we’re just catching up.
One may say that Audet completely ignored the audience with his demeanor but it really was all about the music and that’s something to be admired. It seems possible the audience does not play a deciding factor with Un Blonde and because of this it’s up to the audience to realize the effect of the music on them. There is a confidence with Audet in knowing that his talent and artistic ideals will resonate with listeners, either good or bad; indifference isn’t an option. The live performance confirmed it: Un Blonde makes and thinks good music.