Last night, Australian electronic force Rufus Du Sol christened Houston’s newest concert venue 713 Music Hall at POST Houston. The newly transformed Barbara Jordan Post Office, and former grounds of Houston's defunct Day for Night festival, claimed a newfound glory in its 5,000 capacity downtown venue. Rich in identity and character, it's the kind of venue that bears potential to become a destination for crowds to attend and artists to grace for years to come.
Though Willie Nelson’s now rescheduled concert, originally slated for Wednesday night, would have been a fair grand opening suited for any new Texas concert hall, Rufus’ commanding set was the perfect fit for a warehouse that once housed a storied festival that catered to the same audience gathered in the room last night to see the trio from down under.
Near the end of their two hour set, lead singer Tyrone Lindqvist lined an apology for last year's cancelled concert with optimism and redemption, saying, to a sea of approval: "We're here now and we get to share tonight together and it's been an amazing night."
That Houston stop in early 2020 likely would have been memorable, but last night's set list wouldn’t have been possible had the band not been forced into a Joshua Tree based lockdown to write the bread and butter of last nights tour de force in support of their new album Surrender.
Their stage production filled out the stage nearly to its brim. Three elevated platforms on which each member stood, three back dropping LED screens, and a rectangular tilting overhead lighting rig that added a layer of looming pressure — so prevalent in their music — comprised a production that felt custom built for 713 Music Hall. The stage design's ultra-minimal punch, haunted in its dynamic, shape-shifting physical space, was matched by the band's wave summoning performance.
The magic in a Rufus set, perhaps, lies in their ability to bring humanity into an otherwise synthetic soundscape. Their lyrics of perseverance and vulnerability resonate with the crowd, who sang plenty of lyrics along with the men clad in black. Onstage, the trio translates their rhythmic tides and crests, so hypnotically captured on record, into oceanic sounds by performing the tracks with live instrumentation, rather than relying solely on a laptop. James Hunt's drum fills strike you right in the chest; Jon George's keyboard solos paint a water surface glimmer atop the group's dense sonic production; Tyrone Lindqvist's vocals sound just like they do on the record. (Maybe even a little too close.)
Set peak, and perhaps discography highlight, “Innerbloom” highlighted the audience’s investment in the group. Dancing in the crowd felt like being an amoeba, constantly shifting with each new corner the song turned. Somewhere around the sixth or seventh minute, there was little difference to be found between being a drop of water in Rufus' ocean or being the entire body of water that surrounded their innermost islands. Based on the fist pumps to encore closer "Rather Be," — there's no place the crowd would have rather been last night.
Random notebook dump: Shout out to the dude rocking an Aeros jersey on the top balcony, and props to the nearby concertgoers who lifted a man off the floor during the first song. Given recent events, seeing someone a few feet away from you lose his footing in general admission is the last thing you'd hope to see at a show. But seeing everyone around him pick him up to make sure he was okay was exactly the camaraderie you'd hope for at a celebratory event like last night's.