TVD Live Shots: Boy Harsher with Troller at The Belasco, 4/19

PHOTOS: MATTHEW BELTER | Jae Matthews and August Muller, the darkwave EBM outfit known as Boy Harsher have amassed a veritable cult following. In 2018 they reissued their early catalogue on their own label, Nude Club, while steadily generating new releases, ensuring their already immortal legacy is kept within their purview. With a sold-out tour stretching until August, Boy Harsher is one of the biggest acts to come out of the electronic underground.

The Belasco’s historic, cavernous ballroom radiated with the best dressed goth and fetish attire in LA as Austin-based opener Troller played for the quickly swelling venue. The crowd was receptive to their shoegaze/dark wave fusion; their share of converts imminent. It was all in anticipation of Boy Harsher taking the stage, and their performance was nothing short of seductive.

Sifting between their 6-year catalogue of music, Matthew’s voice, a crescendo of breathy lulls and high pitch screams, alternated between two microphones cutting through Muller’s synth and drum machines. Their simple algorithm—which could easily come off as basic live—is instead a provocative and sanctifying experience, including one bad ass dance party.

The setlist included “Send Me A Vision” from Country Girl Uncut, “Fate” and “LA” from Careful, plus an even darker cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” From the recently released The Runner, a short horror film the duo wrote, produced, and scored during the pandemic, “Tower” and “Escape” made their live debuts.

Jae + Gus, as they refer to themselves publicly, met in film school. Themes like grief, isolation, and longing as told through the lens of horror became central to Boy Harsher’s visual aesthetic often spilling into their music. What makes them as individuals and their live shows so spellbinding is the symbiotic energy of two people in partnership in love, life, and music.

Through Boy Harsher, their inner world and fantasies are brought to life. It’s all part of the same package but on stage it’s a less affected affair. With just a smoke machine, blue and red lightening—their uncomplicated choice of stage visuals lets the focus remain on the music. I would have gone to night two if I could, but there wasn’t a resell ticket to be found. Look out on their IG for last minute ticket releases.


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