“Patience” was a fitting show starter for Saul Williams after the lengthy opening set tedium from CX Kidtronik, which amounted to little more than iTunes on shuffle with sporadic laser sound effects. All was quickly forgiven when Saul and his touring four-piece began playing magisterial, uplifting tunes such as “Look to the Sun” from his latest outingVolcanic Sunlight, recorded in his new home of Paris.
The peaks and valleys of the Renaud Létang-produced record came to life on a backbone of stellar horns from Julien Chirol and the progressive drumming of Pegasus Warning (yep, that’s his name). All three songs that were featured in The Stone Bench mini-doc, which Saul filmed in the real, non-touristy sector of the Catacombs, thankfully graced the evening’s set list. The audience this go around was far more receptive than their Parisian counterparts.
The robotic hiss of “DNA” was an interesting selection, as Saul swapped altered mics throughout his verses, bouncing back and forth between melodic and metallic flows. Permitting this audible intricacy were the acoustics of the sold-out Soda Bar, which sounded remarkably solid for a change. The venue was an odd choice for Saul in the context of his ability to easily fill a larger building, but it made for an intimate evening of thought-provoking lyricism and crowded, sweaty dancing.
Saul Williams seems tuned in to a higher frequency that most of us will not grasp in this lifetime. Picking up on fragments of it and connecting through them, however, feels goddamn good in a sea of dive bar strangers.