One-man shows are never an easy feat to pull off but on the same night Kanye West took to the huge Glastonbury stage solo, Oscar Key Sung graced a sold-out Oxford Art Factory with only himself, a laptop and a few synth-pads. Of course there are a number of differences between Kanye West and Oscar Key Sung. One fills a stage with a rampaging ego while the other is humble and one plays arena while the other is more comfortable with a personal atmosphere. We could go on but this comparison could get tired. The point is, they’re both capable of filling a stage with just themselves and that’s a profound feat in any scenario.
Oscar Key Sung has made a career from little fuss. He’s quietly built a catalogue of finessed, considered post-RnB tracks and, while he’s gained plenty of accolades along the way, he’s only now starting to reap the rewards he’s always been deserved of. He nailed triple j’s coveted Like A Version only a few weeks ago and sold-out this Sydney show – the final show of his tour.
Shy as his stage demeanour may be, he more than made up for it with his musical mastery. His vocals effortlessly weaved around any beat he created and he impressed with his ability to create a wall of sound with so little. Live, his tracks were startlingly minimal but all bound by a thumping backbone that made for a groovy dance floor. It’s Coming was dropped earlier in the set – the first song that really struck a chord with the crowd. His hand movement mimicked his vocal runs as he orchestrated RnB perfection and simultaneously ushered in a slow groove that remained for the entire show.
It became more obvious in the live arena that his 2014 EP Holograms was more straightforward than the more experimental Altruism but that only made for a more well-balanced show. There was something brilliant about a dancefloor banger like All I Could Do sitting alongside the darker, more industrial Premonition. In fact all the Altruism cuts played on the night casted a much darker shadow but also showed that Key Sung as a producer is becoming more bold and experimental. Inside Job even commanded from the crowd more violent dance moves – no slow grooves, just stabbing beats made for sharp, angular moves.
Key Sung himself is a smooth-mover even though he’d probably play it down if ever asked. You get the feeling that he’s lived with the songs for so long that they run through his blood. As each song rolled to the next he would move from his instrumental workstation to mic and begin a few shoulder rolls with a bit of fancy footwork. In Brush, he looked like a true alt-RnB superstar sitting somewhere between Jeremih and FKA twigs. On Skip, he uses the space like twigs does – to freeze time before fast-forwarding it to catchup to the next beat.
It was approaching 1am when he drew the set to a close calling Sydney the best crowd he’s had yet. It’s an overused sentiment in the live arena but like his music it felt entirely genuine. He doesn’t have a massive song yet, designed to close the set so it was a smart move calling upon his Like A Version cover of Jamie xx’s Loud Places. He invited supports Banoffee, Zuri Akoko and Habits to act as his choir as he launched into his slightly-skewed rendition of the track. “I go to loud places to search for someone to be quiet with,” he sung pretty much summing up the night. Over a chatting, excitable crowd, Key Sung managed to hush and create intimacy.