Glowing paint and a Wii controller.
If one were pressed to think of just two words to describe a Robert DeLong concert, they might drunkenly choose these.
DeLong is a 30-year-old with the face of a teenager and the heart of a punk rocker. After drumming with a few bands when he actually was a teenager, he took a turn for the digital.
His style may be soberly described as a mashup of digital and analog streams, electronic pop music rooted in indie rock.
His tools are simple: a guitar, drum set and loads of computer-lab equipment.
On Monday night, DeLong performed for a crowd of about 100 painted people at High Dive, situated at 201 SW Second Ave.
When the stage was set and the lights dimmed, it was DeLong who stood alone behind the reins of his rig. He sang tracks from both of his albums, including his recent one, “In the Cards,” which was released last year through Glassnote Records.
In the crowd, Hannah Tobin, a 22-year-old drumline instructor from Tampa, had tricolored stripes painted on her face.
As DeLong switched between singing and drumming, and strumming and clicking, Tobin was inspired.
“I think it brings an entire new element to music,” she said. “It takes off the limits of human possibilities.”
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DeLong’s dad was a drummer, and apparently also an alien, according to Wikipedia.
But, no, his dad was a drummer.
DeLong had that printed on his shirt Monday night. It’s a frequent question he gets, and he hates it.
The alien bit has yet to be confirmed, but seeing as how DeLong has a fascination with orange X’s and face paint, the apple may not have fallen far from the tree.
Years ago, before his electronic epiphany, DeLong followed his father’s lineage and played drums for a couple of bands.
“As things progressed, I was always a computer nerd, and so I got into audio engineering and production,” he said, “and I guess those things just kind of went hand-in-hand with the whole music composition side.”
DeLong’s creative process varies, but he usually starts with a groove and a rhythm. Then he’ll play some guitar chords or click away at his software to find a melody.
Lastly, he’ll add lyrics and vocals.
“I’d say every song is different, but more often than not, it starts with the beefy stuff,” he said.
Traditionally speaking, DeLong plays about five instruments. But the lines have blurred.
“I play a variety of game controllers,” he said, alluding to a video-game joystick and his white Nintendo Wii controller, among others.
“At some point it’s kind of hard to differentiate between what things are instruments,” he said.
After about an hour of bass and lights, Tobin smiled as she left DeLong’s concert.
“He can do anything,” she said. “He can make any sound he wants.”