Calvin Harris has the world by its bra straps these days. The 24 year-old Scot has got this highly touted, brilliantly laden electronic album I Created Disco he's touring for; he makes uproarious, highly-watched YouTube videos about chasing bastard chickens and beating gentlemen's shoes with a tree switch to make fly eye spectacles; and, I'm pretty sure he really does get all the girls (ladies, he is such a stunner in person).
But, his debut San Francisco show last night at Popscene left me wanting a little more. Admittedly, this concert was a huge reputation to live up to: we were the first stop on a three date North American tour for the rest of 2008, the other two being at Coachella this weekend and in NYC next week. The poor Scot looks simply dumbfounded when he walked on stage, as if not anticipating there to be actual people at his gig. Harris quickly recovered and waved and grinned to the crowd, taking his place behind the lead mic adorned in a silver gray blazer and maroon tee.
It wasn't until "Colours" midway through his set that Harris began to helm the show and commandeer attention on himself. The synthesizer came hot on a dance platter, the bass in on a sexy sashay; his sound, arrangements and all, are one of the most crystal clear ones I can remember in my history at Popscene. I was utterly impressed by the quality and tightness Harris and co were producing in front of me; I Created Disco is a very carefully designed album of maximum layers, and replicating the sheer monster of it with specific blips and all wasn't the issue. I knew I was dancing my ass off and thankful for the giant indoor fan positioned above my head. Backed by a full band, I think the disconnect began to occur when Harris realized he didn't really have to do anything but sing. At times he simply seemed curious to see what else he could do, peering at the faces below him, or asking the crowd to do open - and closed - first pumps to his songs. "Acceptable In The 80s" was an impeccable display of precision in nailing the arrangement, but something was off. It wasn't that he was bored, or careless in his performance at all; if anything, he is one of the most likable characters I've seen. He just seemed to be a tad shy on stage and didn't demand the stage presence that he is obviously capable of.
Harris seemed to shake off this posture at "Colours." The Nintendo-throwback of "Neon Rocks" saw him open up and sway a little, and the wonderfully synth-delicious "Vegas" saw him in full bloom: spitting out his lines in perfect rhyme, and looking like he was actually enjoying his time on stage. He was finally able to catch up to the faultlessness of his music, which had already done all the talking for him up to this point. Thus, closer "The Girls" was a riot of people's hands and drinks entangled in one another and Harris substituting one of the descriptors in the lines for "I like San Francisco girls" merited the only response suited for the occasion: lots of screaming. We like you too, Calvin. We hope to see you again. Just promise us that you won't be too bashful next time, okay? We only bite when we give hickeys.