Braids is on the verge of taking over the art rock/electronic scene, and they proved their potential last night at the Middle East in Cambridge. The Calgary band casually took the stage to prepare their setup as if they were about to rehearse in their favorite venue to a gathering of old friends. That affable persona didn’t escape the audience, who openly engaged with lead singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston while she prepped her instruments. Standell-Preston showcased a charming wit that quickly gained the approval of the crowd and prefaced an intimate musical performance.
Throughout the show, Braids maintained a duality of electonics and “real” instruments, aptly exemplified by Austin Tufts’ oscillation between a standard drum kit and an electric set. Taylor Smith looped an electric xylophone and a myriad of synthesizer pads into the mix to create an ethereal dreamscape of reverberated sound. Standell-Preston’s impressive vocal range flew up octaves through the vocoder that morphed and augmented her dexterous vocals. Together Braids wove rhythmic knots around the audience, displaying genuinely talented musicianship and collaboration—never more so than on their best track, “In Kind.”
After the show Standell-Preston cited Bjork and Stephen Bodzin as significant influential figures to her music. The syncopated electronica of Bodzin is extremely present in the sound of Braids, but where Bjork is abrasively bizarre, Standell-Preston is authentically congenial—both personally and musically. She exudes a natural humility that makes Braids all the more appealing, and that could help the band continue to gain traction as a much-loved indie darling.