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While waiting for the opening act to begin performing at the Sky Ferreira show at TT the Bear’s, it became apparent the type of people who are listening to Sky. In between the sporadic moments of temporary blindness from the flashing of digital cameras taken by hands with Xs aimed at themselves, the room revealed itself to be filled with fashion-forward, young music lovers. If the blogging website where Sky Ferreira owes her popularity to, Tumblr, were a place, it would be here. The crowd was overwhelmingly female, apart from a few reluctant boyfriends, and amongst them was a lot of chatter of the upcoming Marina and the Diamonds concert. It is no surprise that the two artists would share a fan base. Sky Ferreira plays a brand of pastel-colored danceable pop music with a visual aesthetic just as sleek and fashionable as the music itself. Of these artists, Sky is proving to be of the more substantial artists whose music can appeal to different demographics. Her opening act, a local musician named Little Spoon, came out in a dress and decorated the stage with stuffed animals and the inevitable dispersion of glitter.
The first bass kick from Little Spoon’s set felt like a bucket of cold water thrown at you in a deep slumber, a powerful boom that captured the attention of the crowd and held it for the rest of the set. Off came his Ugg Boots as he began to tinker with his arsenal of samplers and keyboards, producing a danceable and psychedelic sea of electronic noises. He wailed into the mic with a heavy reverb effect, and the lyrics were indiscernible, but worked to convey a mood. The presence of his vocals let the crowd know that a human was there, hidden in the sea of robotic production somewhere. His second song had a sweet and innocent dance beat constantly interrupted by nightmarish electronic squeals, making for a confusing but stimulating musical experience. His sonic exploration of the subconscious started to become an apparent theme in his music with the looping of what sounded like a song played when a level is won in any given NES game. The incessant looping of this created an eerie sense of nostalgia, not quite of fond memories of childhood, but more like abruptly waking up from dream of the past. On the surface however, the music was fun and danceable, and the crowd — as well as Little Spoon himself — had a hard time resisting the urge to dance.
Sky Ferreira, although undeniably fashionable as ever, had a surprisingly grungy look when she stepped on stage. Her Doc Martins and tattered sweatshirt seemed to contradict her iconic image, and was unexpected considering the style of music she makes. When she and her band started playing however, and it all began to make sense, and the performance was just as unexpected. The live band with a healthy variety of instruments from live drums to guitars to MacBook Pros that added an energy to her music that, when played live, translated in a surprisingly punk rock fashion. The pounding drums and heavy distorted bass were aggressive and lively as she performed songs from her upcoming album. She delivered an emotionally charged and sincere vocal performance, and her voice live, without all the studio production typical in her recordings, came off much more angsty. She caressed the mic stand seductively, and there was no point in doing so that would not fit in perfectly in one of her music videos. She took the microphone off the stand to make it easier to scream into when performing one of her songs from her upcoming album. The song nearly crossed over into post-hardcore territory, and it was clear that she caught some fans off guard, but it was captivating and impressive nonetheless.
Five songs in, Sky took a break from the punk rock ferocity of her new material, performing “Ghosts” with the introduction of an acoustic guitar. It was a stark and abrupt shift in mood from angry to somber, but the switch seemed natural and seamless. A musical reference to the themes of heartbreak in classic country music was made with the twangy slide guitar solo, a smart compositional move that complimented the song’s mood perfectly. Sky continued this mood into the next song with the performance of an older track called “Werewolf” and in Internet time, the time used most commonly by Sky Ferreira fans, “older” means ten months ago. This time the band took a break as Sky sang over some strummed acoustic guitar. As the band sipped away at their beers, Sky had her bottle of water. Being only 20, the bottle seemed like a physical testament to her youth. In between songs, she came off rather shy, but down to earth, acting as a reminder of her young age she hid so well with her mature and seasoned performance. Sky continued the set with “Sad Eyes”, another stripped down acoustic piece with fingerpicked guitars and Sky’s gentle vocals that showcased some serious stylistic vocal diversity. It was her strongest and most emotionally driven vocal performance of the night.
To end the night, Sky Ferreira performed one of her more popular songs, one that everyone anticipated anxiously all throughout the performance, “Everything is Embarrassing”. Of all the songs, this one was performed most true to the original recording, and being a brilliant song as is, the decision was a wise one. Her gestures through the song seemed to reenact those in the video almost verbatim, while the use of live drums added some subtle changes that made the originally robotic beat more human. There is soon to be dozens of iPhone videos up on every social media of the performance, in true Sky Ferreira zeitgeist.
Sky Ferreira provided a relatively short set, but in that set she managed to jump from Madonna, to Nirvana, to Sunny Day Real Estate, and to Joni Mitchell all naturally and authentically. If her upcoming record sounds anything like her live performance, she can expect a lot more fans of all different types coming her way.