Some call it “hipster R&B.” Others, “PBR&B.” Even “bedroom R&B” has been used to describe alternative R&B. Whatever you call it, though, it’s easy to hear that Dan Vidmar of Shy Girls has already mastered the genre in a short five years, oozing cool vocals—and passionate emotion—over restrained synth work and filtered percussion.
Following a string of EPs and singles, which received critical praise from publications like Noisey and Pitchfork, the Portland, Oregon-based artist released his debut studio album, Salt, in January. The latest effort is a mesmerizing soundtrack of melancholia—and while Vidmar says past releases were influenced by love, Salt finds the musician musing on something more, well, mature.
“The last EPs that I put out previous to Salt were actually more about specific relationships with people. This album was more about my relationship with myself and growing up and getting older,” Vidmar says in an interview with Vegas Seven. “[It’s] about entering my late 20s, about to turn 30, kind of figuring out what my life is. It was a much more personal record in that regard.”
While Vidmar’s smooth pipes and emotive lyrics sound like they’d be experienced best in an intimate concert hall, the artist has had plenty of practice figuring out how to present Shy Girls in larger spaces. In 2014, the artist toured with soft-rock throwback act Haim, soulful R&B crooner Maxwell and indie rockers Little Dragon. And on September 22, he’ll add to that experience when he takes the stage at Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival.
“Even though it’s a solo project, there’s a full band that tours with me,” Vidmar says, adding that the band includes musicians on keyboards, drums, saxophone and guitar, all being played live.
But how does Vidmar plan to connect with the thousands descending on Downtown’s streets this weekend? “We’ve done the festival circuit a little bit before. We’re usually playing in the afternoon—there are no lights and darkness. Our whole touring show revolves around [an] ambiance and a lighting show, so when we do the festival shows it’s actually really interesting to see, because it lifts that veil and kind of reveals this really raw, honest performance. It’s a lot of fun for us.”
And Vidmar says he also plans to have some fun offstage. In addition to his plans to catch former tourmates Haim at the festival (and “definitely Chance [the Rapper] if I can; I would see Blink-182, as well”), the musician also is hoping to venture further out.
“I think Vegas is a great destination for a festival,” he says. “From what I’ve heard, there’s also a cool [local] live music scene in Vegas. I’m curious to check [that] out.”
September 22, 4:20 p.m., Ambassador Stage