A sold out show at Bowery Ballroom on a Thursday night of great things happening inside those doors, and I was proven right when I stepped foot inside and was blown away by Palehound and Torres. Starting the night off, Palehound’s lead singer Ellen Kempner grabbed selections from their 2015 release, Dry Food, which was birthed partly behind the angst of a failed romance. The somber subject matter wasn’t evident in the room, however, having been replaced with a rebellious energy and an “f- you” attitude that permeated the room. Palehound absolutely rocked the Bowery Ballroom during their set with “Molly.” The combination of the breathy, barely-there lyrics with lo-fi, scrappy guitar work reminded me very much of a basement, booze-fueled rave.
Torres’ set, while similar in infectious energy, differed with front woman Mackenzie Scott’s confidence and overall command of every inch of the stage. Making contact with nearly everyone in the room at some point during the night, handfuls of fans near me looked at her adoringly, hanging on every word and every breath. Shouts of “LOVE YOU,” and “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” rained down from the balcony without fail. While we are barely into 2016, Torres’ set has been the biggest and best surprise thus far. While admittedly, I was not familiar with her music, I became an instant fan judging from this set alone. Songs like “Cowboy Guilt,” “New Skin,” and the crowd fave, “Sprinter” buried their way into my brain and I’ve been humming them ever since. Torres’ voice brims and bubbles over with emotion, sometimes painful, but often times powerful and affirming in its truth.
The set list was a perfect mix of both of Torres’ albums, 2013’s self-titled release, and 2015’s Sprinter. During the quieter moments such as “November Baby,” allowed the lyrics to take center stage. “Now everywhere I go, I see you / When I walk and when I sleep / I hear you on the tongues of strangers / I hang on every word they speak.” The sentiment of the words was heartbreaking. But don’t let that fool you. Torres can absolutely shred when needed, for example on “Strange Hellos.” The beginning of the song is sparse and apprehensive but opens into an all out rock head banger that is absolutely relentless on the senses.
While Ms. Scott remarked that Bowery Ballroom was her absolute favorite room to play, it’s clear to me that their talent will soon force them to outgrow its size. You’d better find a way to catch them play another intimate space before it’s too late.
Article: Lesley Keller