Phil Cogley, an Ohio-based singer-songwriter and all-around audiophilic wunderkind who performs under the name The Saturday Giant, took the stage of the Funky Buddha last night with a few of his friends: a laptop computer, a midi control pad, a small electric keyboard, at least 10 food pedals and a giant mixer housed in a suitcase. Wires snaked from everything and to everything. He performed into two microphones – one for singing and one for beatboxing, where he created the vocal landscapes for his songs and then looped them. Almost as an afterthought, he played guitar, too.
Between sets, Cogley provided me a tour of his “band,” the collection of accoutrements he uses nightly to replicate his bouncy, spacey bedroom pop onstage. All of the audio terminology was too much for my brain to handle, especially after a bottle of remarkably potent Three Philosophers ale from the venue’s endless beer menu. Suffice it to say that watching Cogley work, and listening to him describe each element in his toolbox, is a bit like experiencing Benjamin Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” for the 21st century musician; it’s as educational and eye-opening as it is entertaining to listen to.
There are a lot of moving parts to Cogley’s sonic performance art, with each pedal controlling a different element and Cogley managing to keep it all together with just his four limbs. Most electronic performers would simply bring recorded tracks with them onstage, hit “play” and sing over them, but Cogley, the perpetual multitasker, recreates them, step by step, every night, in front of our eyes. I can’t say I’ve seen anything else quite like it.
The result, to my ears, sounded like a guy with an agreeable identity crisis: an electronic musician who likes his acoustic guitar too much to abandon it, or perhaps an indie folk artist with an unusual penchant for macro-sized musical maximalism. His colorful, eclectic and occasionally soulful live show, which he divided into three short sets (I stayed for two of them; the set list is posted below) included material from his two EPs as well as a handful of genre-spanning covers filtered through his esoteric style.
He’s a promising artist, to say the least, and, for his debut South Florida appearance last night, he deserved a bigger audience than the Buddha provided. There were rarely more than 10 people watching Cogley at any given time, such is the vagary of a Tuesday night show. But Palm Beach County audiences have another chance to check out this remarkable talent: Cogley plays Dada in Delray Beach this Thursday, July 25, where he’ll perform with local act Chris Hogan, of Sweet Bronco. The show begins at 10 p.m.; for information, call 561/330-3232.
Who Remembers His Past Lives?
Tom Ze instrumental cover
Where Is My Mind? (Pixies cover)
One Man Guy (Loudon Wainwright cover)
Kairos Over Chronos
Bad Girls (MIA instrumental cover)
Untitled new song
When Death Comes