Aloe Blacc

Interstellar Rodeo, Edmonton AB, July 26

Photo: Levi Manchak

BY Levi ManchakPublished Jul 27, 2019

When Aloe Blacc steps on a stage, he doesn't fail to impress. A polished professional with no jagged edges, Blacc looked and sounded flawless as he danced and sang, blending classic soul and R&B songs into refined mashups. The Jackson 5, Bill Withers, James Brown and Stevie Wonder riffs all slid seamlessly together in Blacc's set through the slick skill of his backing band as well as his own command of the material.
It raises the question, is almost perfect more interesting than perfect? Though clearly homage, playing classic hits of a bygone era at times throughout the set felt a little like a Disneyfication of popular music. Blacc's own material, like his early hit "I Need a Dollar," sounded fresh and thrilling by contrast.
Part of Interstellar Rodeo's ingenuity is bringing artists to Edmonton that no one would expect, but the festival also has a strange habit of bringing crowd-pleasing artists back in relatively short order, so for his second appearance in three years, Blacc may have had to tinker with his set list. It would have been nice to hear more original work, but it didn't detract from his charisma. The crowd was certainly pleased for Blacc's return.

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