Dev Brings 3-Month-Old Baby to Club Show; 'Gloss', 'Sass' to the Stage: Concert Review
Performing at Sunset Strip haunt The Roxy, the breakout radio act, best known for delivering the ubiquitous hook on "Like a G6," attempts to import her electro-pop sound to a storied room of rock with mixed results.
Pop shows are a double-edged sword. On one hand, the audience is primed long before the artist takes the stage, driven to the venue in hopes of hearing their favorite radio hit performed live. But on the other, most of today’s pop music is difficult to translate into a live setting because it’s so deeply rooted in the computer. While there are some artists (often those with large production budgets) who attempt to flesh out the electronic sounds with live players, most pop-minded musicians are stuck singing along to a DJ. Which often just feels like you’re seeing a DJ.
California pop singer Dev (née Devin Tailes), who broke out two years ago when she appeared on Far East Movement’s ubiquitous hit “Like a G6” -- and instantly initiated the word "Slizzard" into the American lexicon -- did her best to counteract this conundrum Thursday night at iconic Sunset Strip rock club The Roxy. The singer’s energized set was preceded by a “performance” from her frequent collaborators The Cataracs, who appeared as if they were playing a Las Vegas Bar Mitzvah. Certainly, a set should consist of more than half-hearted bouncing in place from behind a laptop that’s primarily spinning other musicians’ songs, right? Or is that all it requires to captivate a room filled with radio listeners?
Thankfully, Dev took her performance more seriously, clearly understanding that deliving pop to a dark, sweaty venue with a capacity of only several hundred, requires both energy and production value. On the production side, Dev’s stage setup and aesthetic was near perfection, her buoyant pixie-like presence juxtaposed with matching backup singers and multiple video screens that featured glossy, hypnotizing visuals. The videos shifted between images produced specifically for her shows and clips from her music videos, each mirroring the songs as she performed them.
Dev’s DJ, unfortunately named Sourmilk, spun 10-minutes worth of Top 40 to get the audience in the mood before bringing her onstage (pro tip: LMFAO’s “Party Rock” is a surefire inclusion). After shouting, “LA! What’s up motherfuckers!” Dev, clad in a retro leopard print jumpsuit, launched into album track “Getaway,” searching for a balance between her live vocals rendition of the song and the heavy reliance on the DJ to supply the rest of the sounds. The singer spun through nearly 15 tracks, veering from her own album cuts to her guest appearances (“Like a G6” inevitably emerged).
The Roxy, generally reserved for rock and metal bands, turned out to be the perfect size to encapsulate Dev’s amiable pop, which was at its best on numbers like “Lightspeed” and the sax-erific hit single “In the Dark.” The sold-out crowd, bolstered by a packed VIP section that included Dev’s young baby born Dec. 2011), would have probably cheered for anything at that point, but seemed particularly invigorated during the second half of Dev’s set as her momentum built. “I remember when I couldn’t even get into this place,” the singer told the Roxy crowd. “And now motherf---krs I’m playing it!”
Performance-wise, Dev is still clearly in development although she’s certainly on the right track, especially in terms of her production value. But there’s one area where she doesn’t need any help: The sassy singer has found a way to exist in the pop world without being oversexualized. Dev’s jumpsuit was loose and sporty, offering a fashionable vibe without the usual cleavage (where you at, Katy Perry?). The artist moved around the stage like a hip-hop artist (she does occasionally rap) instead of gyrating or participating in choreographed moves. So while Dev could do with a live drummer and maybe less reliance on DJ Sourmilk, there’s something about her that’s notably encouraging. Even if she did bring her baby to her club show.