HOMESHAKE at The Sugar Club, on Monday 22nd May 2017
Since calling time on touring as Mac Demarco’s guitarist and decamping to Montreal to focus on his solo project HOMESHAKE, Peter Sagar has steadily built up a reputation beyond the Salad Days-hitman’s alumnus.
Sagar is more introspective than his Canadian counterpart. Instead he explores his own paranoia and insecurities surrounding the l word. On ‘Midnight Snack’ favourite, Give it to Me, for example, he begins by lamenting, “ I wish you could climb inside my head/So you could see what it means/When I’m so cold/Feeling so low/Horrible”.
Musically meanwhile, citing D’Angelo and Curtis Mayfield as influences, while encompassing the lo-fi soft rock of Demarco, Homeshake’s music stands somewhere between languorous stonedness and the seductive RnB of his idols.
In addition, speaking to The Fader recently, he outlined his attitudes towards production. And indeed, his music relies as much-or perhaps even more so on this and instrumentation than his succinct lyricism.
His oeuvre is so often bound together so well by a patient and spacious sense of rhythm, even more particularly impressive for somebody whose songs exceed the 4 minute mark only twice during the course of his three albums to date.
When Homeshake’s flying, it comes across as claustrophobic and soothing in equal measure. Despite being described as ‘bedroom R’n’B’ by some outlets, Sagar elevates his sound for the companionable jazz surroundings of The Sugar Club. To largely great effect.
Despite this, the night’s performance still manages to maintain the serenity that you get from listening to Homeshake. The type that serves as an antipode to the kind of 120 bpm brashness of a D12 (who Sagar supports by adorning their logo on his t-shirt.)
Kicking into gear with Hello Welcome before breaking into She Can’t Leave me Here Alone Tonight and then Heat, Sagar wastes no time in immersing us in his mantra. These are the hallmarks of Homeshake’s appeal; groovy bass, discordant but no less laidback guitarwork, synths, and breezy longing vocals.
In this age, which is driven by constantly trying to find new ways to use technology to get what we want (or what we think we want), music can sometimes be in danger of being overproduced. Not Homeshake’s. Or Mac’s for that matter. There is a calming and elegant simplicity to the way that they simmer beneath the surface during this set.
What is most impressive is just how seamlessly Sagar is able to fleet between something up-tempo (eg. Khmlwugh) and then the more down-tempo (eg. the titular Fresh Air).
At its best, Sagar’s susurrating voice accommodates the discordance and awkwardness of his music, while at its worst it loses command completely and can be inclined to fade into obscurity. Further still, not one for really wanting to take the centre stage,- Sagar is positioned to the left of his guitarist – he can at times come off as standoffish or uninterested.
However, you can’t help but feel that really, it’s all part of what makes him so endearingly genuine. And there’s a brigade of other just as trendily dressed, but no less awkward hipsters in attendance who, at one stage take seating positions under Sagar’s command that will attest to this.
The highlight of the evening comes when Sagar moves swiftly from Give it to Me, into the hugely impressive Making a Fool of You, which chronicles unrequited love where the other person wickedly uses this for their own validation and power hunger, making a fool of you in the process.
Though at times the show can seem rushed, there’s always been a level of good things come in small packages with Homeshake and a sense of caustic stoner charm that comes along with it. Overall, this is a delectable performance, one which at this relatively early stage of Sagar’s career, he can consider to be a success.