3rd February | Louisiana
Photos: Patti Aberhart
As part of Independent Venue Week, that hot-spot for emerging musical talent, The Louisiana, showcased all facets of its character across three floors and four hours in an event headlined by the typically superb Fenne Lily.
Two Day Coma opened the event in the charming and surprisingly cosy cellar, an area that neither the band nor I had previously known to exist. This room was not the only pleasant discovery, with the three-piece displaying a subtly-serene understanding of joy and sadness, longing and loss with lyrics like, “I want to be the producer of your wildest dreams,/ I want to be the stitching that holds together the seams”, from standout track ‘Author.’
Subsequently, across every level of the venue, a multitude of genres were explored, from the swooping pop vocals of Only Girl, to the thoughtful folk musings of Oro Swimming Hour and finally the thumping dance beats of Dirty Nice, who also played a DJ set after the main performance. It was difficult not to appreciate the respect towards music shown by each performer and attendee (mostly) and their appreciation towards the vitality of The Louisiana and all other independent venues.
Upstairs in the main area, at a little after 10 o’clock, Fenne Lily forced her way through the crowd and onto the stage, against the backing track of ‘Killing in the Name’ by Rage Against the Machine, a complete contrast to her own music, but fitting of her vibrant personality. Opening with the simply beautiful ‘What’s Good’, the majority of the audience were left awestruck from the first line, “You take the words right out of me”, except the group who persisted to talk loudly throughout, ignorant to their disrespect and the frustrations of those around them.
Despite these distractions, Lily remained focused in her application, demonstrating impressive versatility between songs in which she seems an isolated presence, like the glassy, ‘For a While’, and those which incorporate the use of her band to a greater extent, such as ‘On Hold’, the title track from her upcoming debut album.
Throughout her performance, Lily also presented herself as infectiously likeable, complimenting confident humour with humble openness. Before playing ‘More Than You Know’, Lily entertained the crowd with the tale of Back to the Future being ruined for her by a guy asking for a sexual favour in the middle of it, before explaining that the song had been written with the event in mind, from a deeply bad place. This was a subtle reminder that beyond the impression of joviality presented in Lily’s on-stage interactions, there are meanings of passionate sadness present throughout her songwriting, and that both must be considered when assessing her as an artist.
The set culminated in the hugely successful, ‘Top to Toe’, the first song Lily ever wrote. The audience were reminded that she would be playing Thekla in early April and, despite anticipation for this already rumbling through the crowd, none were likely to forget what the evening had been a focus for: a celebration of independent venues, their spirit and The Louisiana – a celebration of music.