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Active Child in Rotterdam

We’ve been pretty enamoured with Active Child’s music since we first heard them a couple of months back, and so we were super excited to get to see them play live today.

Active Child – who we think have one of the best band names we have heard in a long time – is technically the stage name for American musician Pat Grossi, but he works with two other talented musicians on stage (and a few more in the studio) and together, they form an incredible band. They make the kind of music that is has a depth to it, both through the pure, warm sound and through the words, and together this makes music that ensconces your ears and has the ability to take you to another place.

The deluxe edition of the first full-length Active Child album (You Are All I See) has been on high-rotate in our home for the past few weeks, filling our rooms up with richly layered sounds and beautiful melodies. We could only hope that they’d be that good live in concert.

Without a doubt, they were. At today’s Metropolis Festival in Rotterdam, we were treated to a near complete set of the tracks off You Are All I See, and the way in which the band reproduce their studio sound whilst playing live is pretty amazing. And yes, before you ask, this band does include a harp. Yes, a harp! And it’s not just for show – the harp is an integral part of the makeup of Active Child’s music (how many other bands can you say that about?!).

Grossi – who remarkably taught himself to play this complex instrument – plays it beautifully, and his voice sweeps and soars above the beats and rhythms of the various other instruments and electronic samples. We find it pretty fascinating that he originally sang as a choirboy as a child, and that this classical training comes through in the ethereal sound his voice carries on many tracks, with an incredible range.

When Grossi and the bass player join forces on the microphones, the harmonies are sublime.

For a great live set (and one which showcases these harmonies, and gives a glimpse into what we got to see today, check out this recording from Radio Sation KEXP).

Active Child have been recently touring playing some shows of their own, as well as playing as the opening act for bands such as M83 and Bon Iver. For us though, Active Child deserve main act status, and we are sure this will be a matter of course for them soon enough. Whilst we both agreed that an outdoor music festival (let alone one in Rotterdam, in the midst of a huge rain storm) was not the prime venue for Active Child to play, we know that seeing this group play in a smaller, intimate venue would be something really special. This being said, we were pretty amazed – and happy – that Active Child shared so many tracks today, in their spot at this free annual festival (which incidentally we thought was pretty well organised). They totally owned it though, and had the crowd mesmerised with their unique and distinctive material. The Dutch press pack seemed to be digging them too:

Active Child is certainly the most refreshing musical act we have come across in a while, and seeing them live today only cemented even further our appreciation of the music that Grossi and his fellow musicians are making . They also looked great on stage (the addition of the harp makes for some added drama!), and stand out tracks were High Priestess, Hanging on, Playing House, and See Thru Eyes. Sure, Active Child’s music is not, in the main, music that you can really say is upbeat or makes you want to dance. But it is music with true depth and honesty, from the lyrics to the instrumentation, and the heart and care with which it is played.


Photos by CIA, Metropolis Festival, Zuiderpark, Rotterdam, 1 July 2012.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Cle #

    I first heard Active Child only a few months ago on our national radi broadcasting station. Amazing! Fell in love immediately. I’m thrilled to see other people enjoy his music too. How fantastic to have the opportunity to see him perform.

    July 2, 2012
    • Hello! Thanks for your comment, it is cool to hear you also had the same reaction when you first heard Active Child! Whereabouts are you living? It was a really great experience to see them play live, I hope my rundown of the show gives you some sense at least, of what it was like to be there. You should definitely try and catch him/them when they tour near you if you can. Thanks again for stopping by!

      P.s. Cool gravatar pic – is that a monkey from a Barrel ‘o Monkeys?!

      July 2, 2012
      • Cle #

        I’m in Western Australia, about 400km north of Perth, on the coast. I’m pretty sure he toured the east coast earlier in the year, but it’s a long way from here and it’s cheaper to fly overseas than interstate!

        July 3, 2012
      • Cle #

        I’m in Western Australia, about 400km north of Perth, on the coast. I’m pretty sure he toured the east coast earlier in the year, but it’s a long way from here and it’s cheaper to fly overseas than interstate! Sure is a barrel o monkeys monkey!! (:(l)

        July 3, 2012
      • Hello, so sorry for the late reply! Ah, cool location that you live in! I hear that part of the world is beautiful, I have a friend who recently moved around Perth way. Yeah, I think Active Child was in Aus for Laneways Festival or something like that back in summer, would have been cool I imagine too, but can understand the airfares being prohibitively expensive, it’s crazy that it’s cheaper to fly overseas! But I guess Aus is such a vast country… Awesome abou thte MONKEY!

        July 13, 2012
  2. @liliflath #

    Active Child: what lovely surprise!
    I had never heard about this group before I read foldedcranes.
    They’re not known in Brazil yet.
    But, since the first track I can’t stop listen to them.

    Thank you for sharing!

    July 3, 2012
    • Hello! Thanks for your comment and I am really sorry for the delay in replying! That is seriously so cool that you listened to Active Child after reading my post and that Foldedcranes was the first time you heard about him/them! So happy to share good music and to know that you enjoyed them as much as us, and now you can share the goodness with your friends in Brazil too! Keep enjoying and also hope you’ll keep enjoying our blog too. From what we have read on your blog, we have very similar music taste 🙂

      July 13, 2012
      • @liliflath #

        Foldedcranes is definitely one of my favorite blogs!
        I’m sure I’ll keep enjoying it a lot!
        I’m still exploring the posts about concerts/festivals and I’m glad with what I’m discovering: a lot of new names and sounds about which my brain still has no words to describe but my heart and ears already are totally addicted. I like the way you talk about the experience from the spectator view.
        I would like to write something about Active Child, ’cause my Ipod was dominated by their songs since I read this post. So, don’t be surprised when you receive a pingback, ’cause this was my inspirational source, again!

        July 15, 2012
  3. Cle #


    July 3, 2012
    • No worries at all! As you can see from my last reply my brain was also working too fast for my typing to accurately keep up!

      July 13, 2012
  4. Nienke Verhoeks #

    Jeeejjj you were at the Metropolis festival, with sun!! Sun is quite special for the Metropolis festival!
    I know one band with harp: Florence and the Machine 🙂

    Just saw them live in Dublin, so had to think of it straight away 🙂


    July 16, 2012

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