Photograph by Sarah Rix.
It’s 2011. Drive comes out. A new wave of nu wave enthusiasts are born, and the fascination of old meeting new came from the stellar soundtrack that ended up helping the synthpop scene immensely. One of the most notable names to be featured on that soundtrack is electronic musician David Grellier (better known as College), whose song A Real Hero became a huge viral success after that movie. All of his songs keep going and going but they somehow develop life as they repeat. His love for the murky past would appropriately fit the neon clad bars of the Drake Underground, surely.
That’s how it would seem but it wasn’t the case. What works on album won’t always work live, and Grellier may be a good composer but his attempt to create the same infection live falls short. The lack of progression led people nowhere, and each song leading into the next was met not with widened eyes but with ponderous sighs of relief. I’m a man who loves the song Teenage Colour enough to have it on repeat when I listen to it within the confinements of my home, but I found myself urging the song to find a resolution live. Not enough was done to spice these songs up.
Not even the visuals, who also had good intentions but had no sure idea of how to be engaging. These projections were such a throwback to technology from the 80s and 90s that they may as well have been made from back then. They were cheap and overly basic. College was written in a pixelated font that could have come from a 90s point and click pc game, and what proceeded was far from different. We had planets that were possibly from the era of Windows 95, a slew of 80s actress photos that blended into one by using a demo for some old metamorphasis program, an android hand playing the same animation again and again like it was a gif and more. Did the nostalgia Grellier had hoped for get achieved? Undeniably, but the connection between the artist and the crowd was still lost.
Don’t get me wrong. Grellier had an idea and he went for it. It just didn’t work out. He needs to find a way to keep the party going as it shouldn’t be up to us as we are the guests and not the entertainer. With only a few people in the crowd going ballistic and the rest standing or even talking to one another, it seemed that we all came for the same reason but the few that had the best time were the biggest of College fans. With a new interest caused by both Drive and the revival of synthpop, College is a project that many have noticed. Drive is three years old now and the artists that movie helped to promote, ranging from Kravinsky and Chromatics, have to now earn their own keep. So does College, whose music may be fun but whose live shows have to adapt appropriately and not just rely on what works at home.