With a sold-out show at The Opera House on Saturday evening, the 24-year-old former journalism student, turned beatsmith, proved that his meteoritic rise has been more than mere online hype. Moreover, it helped me distinguish him as a singular artist, correcting any preconceived notions I had regarding he and the aforementioned Hemsworth brothers, to whom I figured he was blithely piggybacking. There is no relation.
It’s interesting that The Opera House served as Mr. Hemsworth’s Toronto stopover – an immaculate venue bursting with acoustic breadth and gilded stage decor. Strange, but my recollection has inherently pegged it as a venue with a predilection for indie rock. Perhaps I’m just getting old?
In any case, around 1am, I stood and observed Ryan Hemsworth take the stage, situated behind an arsenal of samplers, mixers, and what have you. Shrouded in shadow, for the rest of his set this remained his modus operandi, seemingly at ease from the faint illumination provided from stylistic stage props including: a glowing rainbow, cumulus clouds, and a screen backdrop with a visual penchant for kittens.
With his new record, Alone for the First Time, Hemsworth has crafted a collection melodic hooks, presumably from a wealth of already accumulated samples. What impressed me most from his set was the flow, the way he stayed locked on a woozy riff or snippet of vocal to the point of obsession, only to hit you like a wave with something else, be it a down-tempo groove or reflective refrain, ultimately engaging you on another musical level.
For the toque wearing denizens who filled the place until 2 am, they certainly got their money’s worth, and yes, actually knew who Ryan Hemsworth was and is.
For our interview with Ryan Hemsworth, click here.
Review and Photos by Myles Herold |