by Marika Lapointe
You’ve probably heard his music (Kanye remixed his 2009 breakout hit Alors on danse) but what you might not know is just how brilliant Belgian artist Stromae really is. And until seeing his show at Sound Academy on September 23rd, neither did I.
For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, Stromae has blown up over the last few years. His dance/house/electronic tunes are standouts in a sea of artists that seem to simply emulate and modify what they have heard before. And the music is just the beginning. If you don’t speak french you might not be able to fully appreciate the beauty of Stromae’s poetry but in order to really understand who and what this artist does you should at least check out a few translations. His lyrics tackle a slew of issues untouched my most musicians across all genres. A standout tune is Peace or Violence about the two finger salute and what it means.
Then there are his videos. Not only does Stromae hilariously deconstruct his tunes in his “Leçons” videos (usually subtitled in English) but then follows them up with great conceptual music videos. His most popular, “Papaoutai“, features some jaw-dropping choreography and has garnered nearly 190 million views. This guy is no joke.
And then there is his live show.
It is rare to attend a live performance where the show on offer is completely different than the experience of listening to the music or watching the videos alone. It is evident that a great deal of extremely meticulous work has gone into the creation of this show and the payoff is baffling. It begins with Stromae’s amazing stage presence, the young man has taken the expression “tall and lanky” to a new level and his ability to move across the stage makes him completely mesmerizing. Add to that an innovative lighting design and a clever use of projections and you cannot leave the venue without a renewed sense of wonder. The Stromae phenomenon is one rooted in perfectionism and the marriage of music, dance and lighting gave us a flawless performance.
Seeing this show was a testament to what I already suspected: Stromae is not only a brilliant musician, composer, producer, dancer but an all-around creative genius who is turning the music world on it’s head and raising the bar for all those that will follow him.
If you haven’t heard him yet, listen to his latest album Racine Carée and be sure to check out his jaw-dropping videos online.