The early 2010s were a genuinely great period for sexy indie albums. The XX’s xx (2010), Bon Iver’s Bon Iver, Bon Iver (2011) and How to Dress Well’s Total Loss (2012) are just a few of the undoubtedly essential soundtracks to countless romantic evenings of the last five years. Meanwhile, as we approach 2016, there’s no end in sight for the genre as it continues to cultivate talented artists capable of producing some pretty tender, intimate and downright seductive music.
California-based duo Rhye, consisting of Canadian singer Milosh and Danish instrumentalist Robin Hannibal, are no exception. If anything, their mysterious entry onto the scene was a landmark of sensual, romantic indie and its wide-reaching potential. Late 2012 and early 2013 held whispers of a group making the style their own… except that nobody had any idea who they were. Their debut video “Open”, a fair visual representation of their music come to life, took no time in gaining mass appeal and generating a big buzz as to who might be behind the provocative vocals.
The release of their first full-length Woman followed shortly after, alongside their sophomore video “The Fall”. Both efforts were an extension of Rhye’s much acclaimed style and confirmation that they were in fact the real deal. The duo’s presence in constant late-night amorous rotations was undoubted, but it wasn’t too long after that one could also find them stepping into the mainstream.
In the years since their debut album, I’ve heard Rhye being played in the most surprising of places in Istanbul and pretty consistently at that. Cafes, taxis and clubs have all caught me off guard by offering their soulful, sexy sounds and it was no surprise that tickets sold out shortly after Salon IKSV announced their autumn schedule this year. Hype was building and to put it briefly, Rhye really delivered on it.
Starting at a punctual 21:30, Rhye opened to a full house of eager attendees. As one would expect, there were plenty of couples abound, snuggled into one another. Milosh and Hannibal, accompanied by three adept musicians, presented a vibe you’d likely expect from such a group. With quiet hushing taking place between each song, people remained in awe of the frontman’s passionate, soft voice as they floated among their discography.
Admittedly, I had entered the show with a fair bit of apprehension. As a fan who listened to Woman on a near daily basis for the better part of 2013, I was concerned that the show would strictly adhere to the album, without giving the breath of life necessary in a live performance. The fact that they have but one album only magnified the concern. However, it was obvious they were acutely aware of such a risk, as all five members were extremely tight and professional in their work. Milosh stood front and center, accompanied by a hi-hat and snare drum to provide the occasional percussion boost, while the others looked confident, comfortable and ready in front of their respective instruments.
Much to everyone’s delight, the songs regularly diverged off their traditional album sound and often ranged into jam session territory. Their talent as musicians was apparent, and Milosh seemed more than happy to frequently take a step back and let the crowd enjoy it. Considering their limited catalogue of songs, basically every jam one could hope for was in the mix, including a couple of oldies (from an unreleased EP?) and a new song. A personal highlight came from the introduction to the new song, when Milosh quietly warned us that it was going to be a “gentle one”, although most showgoers would have likely attributed all their songs to the category.
Sadly, the evening passed in a flash and was over before any of us were ready. The band concluded to a very rowdy applause and as they disappeared from view, the crowd was relentless in pursuing an encore. I like to imagine that Rhye were seriously considering it but simply had no other songs to play. Regardless, it wasn’t meant to be. Slowly, people made their way out onto the chilly Beyoğlu streets, with a hint of fired up romance in the air after such a satisfying show.
Featured Image Source – Tarik Yassien
Tarik Yassien is a contributor for Yabangee.