Alex Vargas at Oslo Hackney
Oscillating between pounding bass lines reviving the loyal Tuesday crowd and mellifluous vocals that would lull even the most eastern hipster, Alex Vargas’ set at Oslo Hackney had the room hanging from his reverberating man bun.
Taking his tour across Europe, the Danish singer-songwriter is preparing his followers for the release of his new and untitled EP in January, boasting the latest track Giving up the Ghost.
Vargas’ musical style doesn’t seem to find accommodation in any one particular genre, albeit the term “noise soul” was thrown around loosely when speaking with the singer after the show – that can be bypassed. The beauty of this, however, both within his music and the industry as a whole, is that the listener is no longer confined by specificities. As demonstrated by Vargas, there were no restrictions on how or what he wanted to play.
Describing Aretha Franklin and Sam Cook as major contributors to his sound, Vargas also mentioned the influence of his father, “he was a rock singer – I mean he’s not dead, he just isn’t a rock singer anymore.” On buying the artist his first record, Stevie Wonder’s Music of My Mind, Vargas senior introduced his boy to the big players at an early age. From what was heard last night, money can be put on him being a bit of a Jeff Buckley fan and all.
The combination of Vargas’ soulful voice and the electronic development provide a quality that stands its own. The man has a vocal range that would challenge Mariah, with gravelly depths and celestial highs. Solid Ground, the title track of his debut EP is beautifully painful; stilling the gig with a haunting melody, simple guitar strings and lyrics that quite frankly slapped each stunned face in the room.
Performing alongside his guitarist and creative partner Tommy Sheen for the duration of the set, Vargas took the last song alone. Finishing with the older and slightly out of place track Howl, the gig wrapped up with a little ritual. Their style has evolved richly since the release of this song, but it has retained its place in the set list due to sentimentality – and the absence of a capo. Concluding with intimacy and humility, Vargas is a little bit special.
Photos: Miriam Woodburn
For further information about Alex Vargas and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Solid Ground here: