Bass so loud it is a physical presence. So loud that you feel it in your sternum, your shins; so loud at times you can feel your hair and clothes vibrating. So loud it feels like it’s pushing you backward.
That was the scene at Brooklyn’s tiny Elsewhere Tuesday night, where one of Britain’s most popular recent groups — Scotland’s Young Fathers, a forward-looking electronic-rock band a generation down from TV on the Radio but bearing laptops full of other influences as well — played an intimate club gig far below their usual scale: Now a decade into their career, the group’s sophomore album “Dead” won the country’s prestigious Mercury Prize in 2014 and while relatively below-the-radar in the States, they’re a regular at European summer festivals; their new album “Cocoa Sugar,” released in March, is one of this year’s best.
Thus, for the group to perform at this tiny Bushwick venue was a major underplay for them and a major coup for the venue, and while they delivered a strong set, they were simply too big for the densely packed room, which normally plays host to up-and-coming indie rock acts. The group’s normally vivid light show was reduced to alternating shadings of red, blue and yellow, and their complex sound — a constantly shifting electronic and sample-driven sound with rap-singing and chanty choruses — was a bit mashed into the venue’s small but powerful P.A.
But those are the trade-offs for an underplay of this scale — the group is playing two nights at the Hollywood Bowl with LCD Soundsystem and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs this weekend — and the band performed its full set, with material spanning all three of its albums but focused on “Sugar” and earlier favorites like “Only God Knows.” The quartet’s reliance on backing tracks means that three of its members are often not playing instruments — there’s a full-time drummer; the three singers also bash on percussion and occasionally play a boxy synthesizer toward the back of the stage that looked like it was transported from a Kraut-rock documentary — but they were plenty lively, with rapper-singer Alloysious Massaquoi twisting across the stage while drummer Steven Morrison, tall and skinny and wearing an oversized button-down shirt, flailed at his drums like one of those cartoon skeleton drummers in the classic 1929 Disney cartoon “Silly Symphony.” When all four members were in kinetic motion is made for a vivid visual accompaniment to the music.
“Should we walk off and then come back for the encore like it’s a surprise, or should we just play the encore now?,” asked singer-rapper Kayus Bankole with a smile, as the group launched into its final song, concluding with thanks and a deafening blast on the synthesizer before heading offstage — presumably for a quick stop at the hotel before heading to the airport for a flight to Los Angeles, where they’re playing another small show at the Moroccan Lounge tonight.