I’m always incredibly grateful when one of my favorite new acts ends up playing at The Great Scott in Allston, MA. It’s a tiny 150 person venue, that doubles as a bar (it’s mostly a bar), and yet somehow attracts excellent up and coming artists and has great sound and stage to match.
Odetta Hartman opened up, and though I hate to confess to my lack of research, I had not heard any of her material prior to the show. She came out with an infectious confidence alongside her friend on percussion. She bounced back and forth between playing violin, guitar, and banjo, seeming equally comfortable on all of them. Her music shifted rapidly from straightforward country songs to eerie and twisted folktronica all while maintaining a relatively cohesive live performance. The sporadicitiy was further complimented by her percussionist who was playing on a drum set that was essentially just an amalgam of trash cans, tins, and other miscellaneous yet rambunctious objects.
I was captivated by their performance. It was short and sweet (roughly 30 min), and stayed exciting the whole way through. The tone and genre shifts worked incredibly well for her eccentric personality. Was able to speak to her after the show and was delighted by how friendly and willing to chat she was. I will definitely be digging into her discography in the coming weeks. Oh yeah also, her percussionist is probably the best damn tambourine player I’ve seen in a very long time.
Following a short intermission for setup, Let’s Eat Grandma took the stage, once again accompanied only by a percussionist. Their stage setup was mesmerizing and worked perfectly for what they were going for. Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth (the two members of Let’s Eat Grandma) stood at the forefront with only keyboards and synthesizers in front of them. They had almost identical setups and mics, accentuating the fact that there is no lead singer or songwriter…there music is truly the product of collaborative effort.
They played a one hour set that danced through almost all of their newest record, I’m All Ears. Each song was performed with a powerful sense of youthful exuberance and seeing it live reminded me just how dance-driven these tracks really are. They brought a bass-heavy sound that rocked the dance floor of the tiny venue but yet didn’t overpower the soothing melodies and ethereal vocals brought by the duo.
Stage presence is not always an easy thing to do well, especially in a small venue where space is tight and the audience is staring at you from mere inches away. Yet they commanded the stage with a child-like vigor that felt incredibly natural for girls of their age; they genuinely looked like they were having a blast. Awkwardly dancing on stage, sharing elaborate handshakes with each other, and constantly swapping stations on the stage throughout the length of the performance gave the show a surprising sense of naturality. They were able to perform without feeling the need to “perform”.
Overall a really great show, put on by two young and exciting musicians. And a friendly reminder that their song “Donnie Darko” is a certified BANGER of 2018.