Princess Slayer / ERIKA / Natalie Ross / Stella [Live Review – The Boileroom, Guildford, 8/5/14]
When I first saw that poster, my first thought was that this show would turn out to be a serious sausage party, full of hot-under-the-collar guys who’d assumed that an evening spent being entertained by women would entail something very different. I was relieved to arrive at the Boileroom and find that I was wrong; like the performers, last night’s crowd was stylish, socially competent, and clearly excited to be in the presence of the following:
Unfortunately, due to incredibly boring circumstances that you wouldn’t want to read about, I arrived just in time to hear the last notes of Stella’s last song. But what I did hear was enough to make sure that I’ll be kicking myself nonstop for the next several days. Although this does mean I’ll have to hop everywhere, I deserve it.
Classy, elegant, stylish and slick are all suitable words with which one can describe Natalie Ross’s live solo show – but this full-band set was special. I’d not seen Ross perform with a band before, and it was, frankly, brilliant. Each instrumentalist was obviously well-versed in the vocabulary of tasteful musicianship and more than aware of the need to serve, rather than overpower, the song – and Natalie Ross is, to say the least, an incredible songwriter.
Tunes like Holes in My Tights and Walking Through the Streets of Our Love are songs that I already think of as classics, even if I can’t relate to the former song’s main hook, and when delivered with a distinct jazz-club vibe and peppered with Ross’s distinctive employment of digital vocal effects (which enhance, rather than facilitate, a pitch-perfect voice) they become something else entirely. A unique juxtaposition of old and new, synthetic and organic, and physical and digital that I’ve yet to see equalled, Natalie Ross’s music is the way people should be: deep, interesting, and capable of functioning with or without digital gadgets.
Wow. This set is one of my highlights of 2014 already. It’s difficult to convey, using mere words, exactly how intense this experience was. Put ERIKA and her unfairly talented band in a stadium, and the stone-faced security guarding the doors at the back will have goosebumps. Guaranteed. Put her in a 250-capacity room like the Boileroom, and you’re playing with fire.
Looking around at the faces facing stageward for the duration of ERIKA’s set, I couldn’t spot a single distracted or daydreaming man or woman. ERIKA can emote like a classically-trained actor, dissolving the artist-audience boundary by living every moment with a complete lack of inhibition and dragging all onlookers into that space alongside her. Unlike those world-class actors, however, ERIKA’s performance is one hundred percent real. There’s just no room for doubt there – and the same goes for ERIKA’s band, all of whom spend their onstage time as absorbed as Himalayan meditation masters, full to the point of bursting with passion, energy, and love for what they do, yet simultaneously self-controlled and able to channel said energies into their art.
It boggles the mind that all this happened, yet ERIKA is unsigned. Plastic pop, like plastic itself, is disposable and recyclable – but performers like ERIKA and her band are completely the opposite. They’re indispensable, irreplaceable, and perfectly capable of nourishing souls and bottom lines alike. The music business needs more performers like these guys. Let them in the door already.
Regular readers (and Twitter followers) will already know how much I love Princess Slayer. I go on about it all the time, so I won’t repeat most of my usual schtick here. I can report something new, however: This set showcased a fresh and intriguing side of Princess Slayer that I absolutely love.
Not only have these guys progressed impressively as live performers since their debut last November, but they have two fresh new tunes with even deeper grooves and sexier vibes that ever before. Six months into their career, Princess Slayer are evolving into a unique and infectious beast that delivers everything you could want from an EDM band before pushing further and entering the realm of the truly mind-blowing. Get their EP, get yourself to a show (the next one is at the Boileroom on Monday) and look forward to even more awesomeness over the coming months. Summer’s almost here, and Princess Slayer have the soundtrack you need.
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