The evening started off slowly with a only a few people trickling through the doors of The Bootleg Theater when opener Liphemra began her set. The LA singer’s band kept an eclectic variety of instruments on hand, including chimes, gongs and a horn that helped to create her haunting, dreamy sound. While the quirky collection of sounds was much appreciated, the most impressive quality of Liphemra’s music was the undeniable hip-hop influence. Each song had a consistently catchy, yet cool, beat that kept the audience nodding their heads.
Liphemra, a skilled drummer, would change her position from the front of the stage to the drum set in the back throughout the performance. There were also moments in the music that were reminiscent of a ’90s grunge band, but Liphemra is probably more comparable to a harder, darker Portishead, keeping in the trip-hop realm. The beats, the concept of the sound and the raspy, eerie voice of the singer drew interest to the music, despite the issues with sound that occurred during the live set.
Next up was The-Drum, a Chicago-based duo that kept the audience warmed up for Jessy Lanza through their electronic, trance-like tracks. More head nodding came from the sea of young hipsters that by then had multiplied to fill the room. Yelps of approval came from the crowd at different instances of the performance and the music would change from upbeat dance to mellow and almost aquatic-sounding. Both performers were clearly passionate about their music and vibing with their listeners.
Jessy Lanza finally took the stage at around 11:30pm and she was met by an incredibly excited crowd clapping and calling her name. She exuded a cute, modest persona bashfully thanking the fans and tossing out smiles. Her sweet personality was offset by the sexy, sultry quality of her voice that has been compared to that of the late-great Aaliyah, making Lanza even more endearing. The first track she played was “Giddy,” harboring a hint of hip-hop beat and electronic sound underneath her soft, breathy voice. It was followed by “5785021,” in which the hip-hop influence was bit more pronounced and the delicacy in her voice took the forefront, crooning “call me.”
The folks listening would stay mostly stationary through the songs, aside from a bit of hip-swinging and erupt in applause after the songs were finished, but once “Fuck Diamond” and “Kathy Lee” came on, there was definitive dancing and celebration, even through a bit of mic feedback during “Fuck Diamond” which, like “Kathy Lee”, carries a playful quality. The good energy in the room lasted until the end of the night when Lanza said her last thank you’s, but after a bit of chanting from her fans she was reeled back on stage to perform an encore, the slower, drawn-out “Strange Emotion.”
Overall the line-up for The Bootleg was cohesive in its cool vibe, electronic sound and hip-hop flare. No performance did it better, however, than headliner Jessy Lanza, whose music masterfully and fluidly blends genres. The tracks that she played off her debut album Pull My Hair Back from Hyperdub Records worked perfectly to demonstrate her skills as a musician and vocalist.
Against the Wall
Pull My Hair Back