Aaron Maine, the frontman and creative genius behind Porches, is a man who definitely knows how to move his hips. With each groovy pop hit (whether he was donning a guitar or not), more often than not Maine would be swaying with each syncopated beat. Entrancing and enticing, Maine captivates a crowd with little more than his rhythmic movements and a tempting stare.
However, the show at Detroit’s El Club didn’t start out with such a commanding presence. It took Maine and the rest of the band a few songs to really warm up to the rather rudely outspoken crowd, but once in their element, their craft was pure magic. By the third song, Porches’s foray into trance-pop “Find Me,” Maine’s persona was magnetic.
Opening his set with the first track on Pool, “Underwater,” and the celestial synthline expertly set the tone for the rest of night. Porches’s cohesive brand of deep bass and floaty synths rarely strayed far from these dancey beats, placing emphasis on each clearly delivered syllable from Maine’s aching, monotone drawl. Despite touring in support of his recently released third album The House, the set included a surprising number of cuts from his sophomore album Pool, including “Mood,” “Braid” and “Glow,” inciting enthusiastic responses from the majority of the packed crowd.
Most surprisingly was the band’s stripped down version of normally upbeat The House opener “Leave the House,” featuring a slowed tempo, minimal instrumentals and harmonic accompaniment underneath Maine’s verses. Yet, even the more produced tracks on the album like “Find Me” and “Anymore” had a more organic feel to their live performance, sometimes featuring Maine playing a piercing cowbell. Every guitar note vibrated a little more clearly in conjunction with the sound live drums brought to the forefront, contrasting their more toned down presence during the final mixing of most of Porches’s music. It felt like an entirely new experience hearing live versions of such highly produced and meticulously mixed tracks.
The encore left much to be wondered after the band first left the stage, having already played most of their hits during their regular set like “Car” and “Find Me.” Maine first came out with one of their keyboardists to give a beautiful rendition of the minimalistic “Country,” before the rest of the band came out to perform shocking deep cut “Headsgiving” from their first album Slow Dance in the Cosmos, rounding out the set with a throwback to their indie rock roots.
Aaron Maine is probably very aware of his charisma; it radiates off him with an addictive quality — his confidence intoxicating, like a blinding sun we allow him to burn into our retinas. Leaving El Club on Tuesday night, that image of Maine irradiated and backlit on stage was stamped into my memories. Their music left me wanting more — not for lack of quality or fulfillment but rather out of pure addiction for the well-oiled machine that is Porches. “Goodbye” (which Maine noted to be his favorite song from The House), with its poppy beats and tender piano melodies, sums up the show well: “It is so sad to say ‘goodbye.’”