It’s hard to gauge just how interesting Elohim is as a performer based on her opening act for Alison Wonderland at the Fox Theater in Oakland. She provides everything you’d expect from a decent electronic pop performance — epilepsy-inducing LED screens, the synchronized stage lights and a smooth-sailing set with packaged sing-along choruses and remixes included.
But those things only make up the bare minimum. They’re the basic pieces that must be included in order to encourage people to make a real effort to coordinate a plan with their friends and get dressed up to go one level above a modest-sized house party with good music, welcoming company and a little bit of alcohol — which really doesn’t sound too bad at all. In other words, Elohim is here to show her audience a good time, but she’s unconcerned with trying anything new in terms of live electronic music.
Two years after making her debut in 2015 with “She Talks Too Much” — a straightforward, feel-good single without any surprises or sudden movements — Elohim has slowly been building up her discography with a self-titled album (2016), a notable feature with Louis the Child in “Love is Alive” (2017) and her satisfying single, “Sleepy Eyes” (2017). Without a doubt, she has all the potential to improve and take her sizeable audience (1.5 million listeners on Spotify) somewhere interesting.
In the meantime, this show, along with her current music, shall pass.
“Sensations,” appropriately but expectedly, started off the Los Angeles based singer/songwriter’s set, just as it introduces her self-titled album. Any modest frequenter of live electronic music performances could recognize that heart-thumping introductory beat that can always be depended on to rouse the audience. It works, but it’s far from memorable. Here and throughout, Elohim loyally follows all the rules of satisfaction.
When Elohim moves on in her set to her hit feature “Love is Alive,” the robotic voice that intermittently appears to make small messages of feigned encouragement or enthusiasm unfortunately does a disservice to Elohim and her performance. There’s something artificial and insincere about an anonymous voice trying to tell the audience that “Beauty surrounds us. Smile and share a laugh with the people around you. You are spectacular.”
And there were too many moments in the set during which it was difficult to discern when and if Elohim was singing to a back track — or even singing at all. Though if it’s the latter, then she is no less guilty than the DJs who act like they’re being productive on stage by fidgeting with their equipment.
Elohim, however, is not afraid of her audience. When she sheds her signature white hoodie marked “XA AX,” Elohim truly shines as she dances along with everyone — making it known that she’s enjoying herself just as much as the crowd is enjoying the show. Though her size does not allow her to be a large presence on the stage and her dance moves can be a little awkward, Elohim performs as someone who is authentic and as approachable as her music.
But there is also the danger of the tired and tried adherence to the formulaic and expected that comes with occupying a place on the sonic spectrum of electronic pop that is merely “approachable.” Elohim unfortunately misses her opportunity to add any nuance or individuality within the genre she traverses.
Despite her persona that’s frequently noted — as several hail it as “mysterious” and “enigmatic” — it doesn’t contribute to the impact of her set or her presence. That being said, Elohim clearly has only the best intentions for her music. And if her fans keep bumping their heads and moving their bodies as they did at the Fox Theater, then she should feel free to go in any direction she pleases.
Contact Lloyd Lee at [email protected].