As fans clutched the bars of Rockwood’s tangled balconies, Balthazar’s spooky pop and snapping beats rocked Stage 2 like a ship on a distant sea. Wrapped in the misty afternoon light, the up-and-coming band stormed CMJ with a blend that was hard to trace back to their Belgian roots alone.
Spilling out gems from their new album, Thin Walls, Balthazar’s Western European origins often took an Eastern European turn. Adding to their offshore edge, keyboardist Patricia Vanneste could be caught trading violin for maracas, while guitarist Maarten Devoldere shredded his guitar at unique angles. Their intricate setlist included “Decency,” “Then What,” “Do Not Claim Them Anymore,” “Fifteen Floors,” “I Looked For You,” “Bunker,” and “Blood Like Wine.”
Bell-like keys and strings brought shades of secrecy to Balthazar’s accessible sound. But most memorably, Jinte Deprez’ gilded vocals tugged mysterious colors out of words like “Tell your mother that you love her” in “Fifteen Floors.” This sentiment was joined by “Fire truck, always pretending, motherfucking Disney ending,” a complaint that was intensely appealing in both rhythm and timbre.
Balthazar finished their set with raised glasses and a rush of silence. But the drinks were quickly drained, and the well-deserved screams brushed away the rest.
Article: Olivia Isenhart