Marnie Stern once spoke of attending concerts alone in her formative years. When she took the stage at Bootleg Theater, the tables turned: she was onstage and had her own ‘lone wolf’ fans. From our solitude, we listened to what synesthetes might have described as a whirlwind of rainbow shrapnel, the colorful marriage of technical skill and high-octane songwriting. Fronting a trio with Vince Rogers on drums and Nithin Kalvakota on bass, Marnie championed the stage with head-banging and an indefatigable smile.
If you’ve ever seen a ‘rock god/goddess’ perform live, then you’ve probably felt some kind of distance from them, like they were elevated to an extraordinary plane. Marnie’s hard-hitting, virtuosic playing could stand alone, but it also fell into the rarefied ranks of math rock. Instead, she reaches through the aesthetic, humanizing her music with bursts of raw emotion. Her live vocals are the charged exclamations of a frantic, complex psyche: “I got something in my soul pushing me to hold onto the pain.”
When music takes you to another world, you can get lost, drift off, and forget that a human being like yourself actually created that world. Marnie Stern takes you to another dimension while eliciting the powerful feelings that are central to life. We smiled, laughed, fought sublime tears and a strange urge to dance like a jackhammer—all the while thinking, “You’re an Olympic badass.”
Strolling out of the Bootleg, I imagined the Marnie of ten years ago walking home from a show by herself, just like me. Alone or with company, we keep coming because we love the music. Thanks Marnie, for rocking our world and pulling my heartstrings.