Since his debut album, Cheese, was released in 2011, Belgian hip-hop artist Stromae has found huge success in Europe. His success in the U.S. has been slowed due to his songs being predominantly in the French language. Nonetheless, Stromae is starting to make ripples in the American music scene. In 2013 he released his hit album Racine Carrée and created music videos for YouTube, which have amassed huge view counts. Before hitting both weekends of Coachella, Stromae made a Tuesday night stop at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland.
Stromae opened with “Ta Fête”, the official World cup anthem for the Belgium national football team. His band members wore matching suits complete with bow ties while Stromae himself wore outfits familiar to anyone who has watched his music videos, changing them regularly from song to song. Early in the set Stromae described his different musical elements as “chapters” in his show. Chapters 1-4: piano, bass, drums, and the performers. His live performance was fun and rhythmic with complex drum beats and vocal harmonies. Before performing “Papaoutai” , Stromae left the stage and emerged in the outfit worn in the music video and enthralled the crowd with the dance moves from said video. The band extended the song into an instrumental jam, showing off their ability to keep the crowd dancing before they left the stage to end the set. They returned and gathered in a semicircle to thank the audience for enjoying the show and asked everyone to keep quiet while they encored with an a capella version of “Tous Les Mêmes.”
Stromae and his band were shown a great amount of love and appreciation from their fans at the sold out Crystal Ballroom. He is emerging as one of the most enjoyable live acts around and will likely find a great deal of success in the future as more Americans discover his deep lyrics and dance-worthy music.