The 90s brought some of the most memorable bands and artists to the forefront. These bands were capable of reaching into the hearts of adults, young and old, and teenagers everywhere, giving hope to the generations that lived through that decade. Beck was one of the early success stories. His massive first hit "Loser" was everything that a teenager could latch onto. But while he accomplished something original and abstract on his major label debut, Mellow Gold, he showed that he wasn't meant to be a one hit wonder, even if "Loser" was very much in the wein of other one-off hits.
For the last twenty-five years, Beck has routinely demonstrated that he is something of a chameleon in the alternative music world. He is the type of artist that compels an audience to listen, even if it's an unexpected offering. In that sense, he's one of the most original and innovative artists of the 90s, and he'll be bringing all of that swagger of the experimental sounds he's known for to the main stage of Voodoo on Saturday, October 26.
The story of Beck, as told through his music, is one of marvel and wonder. While Mellow Gold was a major breakthrough, mixing rock music with a hip hop-inspired lyrical precision, it was just his opening salvo in a career that has been representative of the wide-ranging sounds he and his band can conjure up. There's literally something for everyone when it comes to what Beck can create.
The Colors record, for example, didn't exactly tear up the music charts, but what is noteworthy is how different it was from the albums that came before. It's reminiscent in instrumentation of a groove heavy hip hop record, even though he's not rapping throughout. With that album, Beck established himself as a true artist who pushed himself to grow. The song "Wow" is utterly incredible and eye-opening, while "Up all Night" is a perfect song to dance your cares away to in a dark bar. This is just one example of Beck taking a chance, and he's basically done that on nearly every record he's ever made. In the long run, that choice to take a chance has made Beck a vital and indispensable artist.
Beck is an artist who can make unique 70s-inspired records like Mutations and Midnite Vultures just to turn around and make, what many consider his magnum opus, Sea Change, which is a record that is more reflective record. The layers presented throughout Sea Change show yet another facet that Beck hadn't shown before. It's not upbeat, and it doesn't make you want to dance and wiggle, but it does succeed in opening your eyes and gives you another chance to make sense of his inspirations.
Beck has a vast arsenal he can deploy when performing live. He can mingle and marry different styles, which is wonderful and exciting to watch. It's a refreshing change to be surprised and not know what might happen during a performance. Having the ability to mix in a beautiful song like "Waking Light" from the brilliant but often overlooked Morning Phase, in a set, only to then turn things around and deliver a stellar powerhouse performance of "Girl" or the bass heavy "E-Pro" keeps audiences on their toes.
With numerous albums under his belt, he essentially has his pick of what kind of show he wants to present. At a festival like Voodoo, it's the variety that is so important, but it's safe to assume that Beck will stick to some of the more celebrated tracks from his thick, vibrant history. Of course, the requisite hits, such as "Where It's At?" and "Loser," are bound to be on tap, but he won't stop there. Newer songs like "Night Running," which he recorded with Cage the Elephant, could be a big moment of the night, but, on the other hand, you might get lesser known songs like "One Foot in the Grave" and "Paper Tiger." All in all, expect a memorable set with plenty of the rockers one would expect at a Beck show, mixed in with lesser known songs. There's even the possibility of a cover that he and his band are sure to make their own.
Beck operates differently than most, as he never does the same thing twice, and while some may consider him a sleeper who people aren't initially thinking about, he might very well blow them away if they stick around to see a performance that is sure to captivate all in attendance. Don't sleep on Beck, as he's quite the talent, and he'll prove why on the second night of Voodoo Fest.
Photo Courtesy of Raph_PH under Creative Commons 2.0