With the genre-bending that dominates today’s musical landscape, nothing is firmly rock and roll, pop, hip-hop, or electronic anymore. Such is the case for Australian trio RÜFÜS DU SOL. Take a listen to a track from their ARIA chart-topping sophomore album, Bloom, and you’ll hear something that could be described as straightforward and fun electronic house music. Look at a picture of them, and you may assume that these are just some more EDM bros touring the DJ circuit in their all-black clothes and backwards baseball caps.
So given these preconceived notions, fans may be taken aback when seeing them live for the first time. They are definitely playing house music, but more importantly, they are doing it with live instruments on stage. And because of the waning enthusiasm for EDM as a genre, RÜFÜS DU SOL are part of a growing trend of genre-bending musicians placing a strong emphasis on the live experience to great results.
The trio of Jon George, Tyrone Lindqvist, and James Hunt each brought something important into the mix when translating the EDM stylings of their music into the live music world. Lindqvist switched between keys and electric guitar while providing lead vocals, occasionally breaking out from behind the synths to jump along with the crowd at the lip of the stage. George provided the synth sounds that are a staple of EDM tracks, but instead of relying on a Play button, he performed them live while multitasking on the drum pads in addition to handling backup vocal duties.. And tying it all together was Hunt, whose cool, calm and collected stand-up performance on drums provided the perfect BPM to get the sold-out crowd moving from start to finish. There will always be something to say for live drums to get people dancing. The visceral pounding of a snare sounds a lot more authentic than a pre-recorded drum sound that plays at the same preordained velocity. They’re still drums, of course, but it feels far less immediate. All of this was combined with an impressive light show and smoke machines to make for a memorable spectacle when sing-alongs like “Say a Prayer for Me” and “Like an Animal” reverberated throughout the club.
Though it’s easy to say that RÜFÜS DU SOL belongs in the EDM genre, it’s a bit more complicated than that. They combine the youthful energy of dance music with the visceral energy of live rock music. Music purists have been quick to dismiss EDM due to a perceived lack of live musicianship. But those that are increasingly disillusioned by prerecorded tracks and the over-the-top rep that EDM receives have found solace in groups like RÜFÜS DU SOL, Bob Moses, and opener The Kite String Tangle. These musicians are at the forefront of the movement that is taking dance music from the underground parties to the live music clubs.