RY X at The Deaf Institute. November 2016, I attended possibly the hottest gig of my life. This was due to Manchester’s Deaf Institute (yes, I was there again!) being full to the brim with RY X fans who managed to sell out the popular venue.
At the RY X gog, whilst feeling a little like sardines, my sister, Dad and I crammed ourselves into the busy room in anticipation of Australian singer songwriter, RY X. These tickets were a rather spontaneous purchase I’ll admit, after only hearing one of his tracks on a playlist at work about a month ago. Upon arriving home that day I searched desperately for more of his music, discovering a whole album was available and that he was touring the UK on my birthday! Well, what better way to celebrate than seeing him live, so, dragging my Pops and sister, Ella, along I bought some tickets!
It’s quite possible that RY X and his band are the epitome of the word ethereal. Or ambient. Either will do, as regardless, those words sum up his music perfectly. He, himself, uses the word dreamy, which is equally suitable! This was something I already knew from listening to his album Dawn repeatedly over the past month but somehow the ambient levels increased in a jam packed room. Not only was the sound beautiful but also the attention to stage detail too. Smoke machines provided a mysterious setting as smoke billowed and drifted across the stage and into the room. Candles were lit and placed over the stage also, and combined, the soaring smoke and open flame gave the best stage setting I’ve seen in a long time. With the spot lights shining through the smoke, creating silhouettes of the musicians, there was something very magical about it all. This was before even the first hypnotising guitar notes were played or before RY X’s soft husky voice uttered the first words of his opening song Shoreline.
On stage, RY X was accompanied by only two other members. For a band made up of only three people, the sound they created was equally full as it was spacious. RY X himself made up the lead vocal part and used (from what I could see) a foot pedal, that every now and then he pressed to produce backing harmonies to add layers to his songs. He also swapped throughout the set between his electric and acoustic guitar. His acoustic guitar created mournful and haunting melodies, whilst his electric guitar provided magical sounds that contributed to the spacious feel. Combining his acoustic guitar and his falsetto layered vocals, it very much reminded me of Bon Iver’s early sound, but RY X experiments with more electronic features in some of the tracks. These electronic effects were produced by RY X on stage because next to him stood some sort of synth. From where I was standing, I was unable to see exactly what instrument he was playing but the synth sound enhanced the ethereal and ambient quality I mentioned earlier.In addition to RY X, was a pianist who may also have been creating further synth and ambient sounds, but it was hard to tell amongst all the smoke that distorted my vision of the stage. On the other side of the stage was a drummer who included electronic drum parts as much as acoustic drums, fulfilling the electronic vibe once again. Although the majority of his songs are very melancholy (that you all know I love) they were equally soothing and it was easy to get lost and captivated by the music they made. Each song seemed to last between 5-10 minutes but it never became boring only easier to be enchanted. This, I suppose is the ambient element to his music that makes it so hypnotic.
Tracks such as Vampires, Lean and especially Deliverance, provided more tribal and dance-like vibes, but still concentrating on a dark mood throughout. His delicate songs Sweat and Salt were just as fascinating, causing a hush over the audience so that we could listen to his barely-there vocals and acoustic guitar playing. I love that there is a balanced mix between his up tempo songs and his more gentle tracks, both on his album and when he performed live, and I look forward to seeing him live again. The album was released only in May 2016, so I hope we don’t have to wait too long until his next release of songs, as I would love to see where he takes his music. Until then I’ll certainly be listening on repeat to Dawn, and getting lost in his ambient world.