Concert Reviews

Disclosure Didn't Need Guest Vocalists to Mesmerize The Bomb Factory

With Honey Dijon
The Bomb Factory, Dallas
Thursday, May 12, 2016

Disclosure, the English electronic duo of siblings, sold out the Bomb Factory Thursday night and easily won over the crowd with their blend of house, U.K. garage, R&B and pop. Guy and Howard Lawrence stood surrounded by massive consoles, but they had no need to be flashy: these music producers have a live show guided by their considerable skills on drums and bass. 

Taking cues from the early '90s, Disclosure does not have a sound you would expect to come from brothers in their early 20s. The early material they put online in 2010 was noisier with dubstep leanings. But as Disclosure received a positive response, surprising amounts of streams and started getting chased after for remixes, their sound cleaned up into something closer to U.K. garage, electronic music with a distinctive percussive rhythm with syncopated hi-hats, cymbals and snares.

Disclosure’s made their sound pop-orientated through collaborations with vocalists, making an early splash with a remix of Jessie Ware’s “Running” before getting signed and hitting it big with tracks that helped launch the careers of other British artists. Disclosure brought the momentum of two wildly popular, Grammy nominated albums to Dallas last night and the buzz was palpable. Finding a parking space at any price anywhere in Deep Ellum before the show was no small feat. The night started with the humming bass and clubby beeps of “White Noise,” the slinky 2013 single from their debut album, Settle. Featuring vocals from AlunaGeorge, the song is a perfect example of Disclosure’s ability to be both critically and commercially viable.

As far as all those famous guest vocalists that are featured on many of Disclosure’s songs, they were—surprise— not in attendance, leaving prerecorded vocal tracks to pick up a lot of slack. But this seemed to make no difference whatsoever to the audience, who danced with what little space they had, often using moves that told you exactly which part of Dallas they are from — those Uptown crews, in particular, were hysterical.

The duo performed the original version of “F for You” with younger brother Howard on vocals, even though the Mary J. Blige remix is better known. After launching into the set with a couple early tracks, Disclosure focused on their latest album, Caracal, for most of the tracks that comprised their two-hour set. Other than pausing for a quick, “Thanks for being here!” or, “How are you feeling tonight?” the music and lights were nonstop, with animated faces sometimes appearing on the screens to mouth the words to the songs.

Howard gave his best vocals of the night early on with “Jaded,” the breezy house-pop track with that catchy, “Why, oh, why do you have to lie?” chorus. Then they performed “Magnets,” their fall single and one of last year’s biggest hits, a collaboration with Lorde. They played last year’s “Omen,” a single they did with Sam Smith that has mysterious lyrics, a beat that is minimal and a vibe that is chill, if not slow motion. There were plenty more of their more recent hits sprinkled in to the set, including the the Weeknd track “Nocturnal,” along with mainstays like the Eliza Doolittle collaboration, "You & Me." There was even a real, live guest vocalist in the form of Brandon Riley, who appeared for "Moving Mountains" during the encore and whose name seemed unfamiliar to most in the audience. But it was some of the earliest tracks that helped end the night on a high.

The main set was closed off with “When a Fire Starts to Burn,” the track that drew so much attention to the release of their debut album. Three years later, its basic house groove with some bounce, a rolling bassline, thick organ and clattering hi-hats still sounds like a statement of intent. Then they closed the encore with “Latch,” their other single with Sam Smith.

With vocals that many first assumed were female, a different time signature for house, jazz chords and melody, "Latch" was originally thought of as too strange for the radio and not clubby enough for clubs. But the Lawrence brothers were onto something, and on Thursday they reminded Dallas just how accessible that strangeness could be.

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Jeremy Hallock