There are plenty of good reasons to go to tiny music venues. The intimacy, the rawness, the cheaper cover prices, or the ability to tell your friends “I saw that artist when…” And if you were lucky enough to have gone to the Mercury Lounge this past Thursday you’ll be able to the say that to everyone you know because that night’s act, Adia Victoria, is well on her way to bigger and better things.
Victoria, whose debut album Beyond the Bloodhounds dropped just 6 days earlier, took control of a packed Mercury Lounge from the moment she walked on stage. Victoria was clad in a loose white maxi dress – almost smock-like. This night had an almost sermon like quality to it, especially considering Victoria’s seven band mates were all dressed totally in white as well. You almost felt that Victoria was leading a makeshift church from the Louisiana Bayou all the way down to deserted Texas towns caked in dust. At each stop the band pitches their tent, but instead of bringing salvation, they offer creepy tales of woe and loneliness.
Victoria’s voice has an unforgiving ragged quality to it. Her wide-open eyes, resting on cheeks flush with blush, seem to stare past the audience. She commands the crowd’s attention, whether she’s moving in a jerked manner across the stage or bending her black guitar to her will as she delivers gothic blues that will burrow their way into their subconscious.
Victoria’s true power comes from her haunting melodies. “I don’t know nothing about southern belles…But I can tell you something about southern hell,” she wails on the jangly “Stuck in the South.” And you believe her as she sings it.
But it’s not all being a drift in the darkness (but there are few ways that that can sound more pleasing than as presented by Victoria’s songs) – especially once she begins interacting with the crowd. She jumped into the pit almost as if she was offering them her blessing. Touching chins and cheeks, hugging one audience member. And her banter brought forth a humor that is not found in her music. She told the audience about how she called up her grandmother to tell her how happy she was to be in the New Yorker and that her album was being review by Pitchfork. Her grandmother’s reply – what the fuck is Pitchfork? She even managed to sneak in a joke at Jeb Bush’s expense when she introduced her sax players. “Sorry Jeb,” she shrugged after telling the audience to ‘please clap’ for them.
But her singing and songwriting made that night feel like the love child of Massive Attack and Tom Waits come to life in the form of Adia Victoria. When she throws lines at the crowd like, “It’s the horrible weather that ties me together, to you,” you know that you’ll take that deluge of rain, darkness, and cold if it means more Adia Victoria in your life.
- Detroit Moan
- Dead Eyes
- Mortimer’s Blues
- Howlin’ Shame
- Head Rot
- Invisible Hands
- Stuck in the South
- And Then You Die
- Horrible Weather
- 10. Ain’t I A Woman
Article: Omar Kasrawi