featuring Kelsey Lu
October 5th, 2017 @ Brighton Music Hall
By: Craig Short
[three_fourth]I stepped into Brighton Music Hall with a certain set of expectations for what I was about to witness. Hundred Waters’ dreamy, organic electronic pop and the looping cello soundscapes of opener Kelsey Lu seemed to me to be an inspired combination. I wanted to be swept off of this earth into an ethereal dreamland of perfectly cultivated beauty with no reminders of the daily struggles of humanity. What I got, in the end, was a much more personal and human experience. And it was probably better that way.
Take Kelsey Lu’s entrance to the stage: she slipped in through a back door, almost invisible in the dim blue stage lights, crept up to a microphone adorned with peacock feathers and… opened up a bag of chips. The audience laughed, and the show was off to a great start.
It’s hard to apply genre descriptors to an act like hers. The only instruments were her voice, a cello, a loop pedal, and an electric guitar on the last few songs. She drifted through lush passages like the song “Dreams,” which builds up countless layers of eerie, high pitched textures on the cello, and more minimalist compositions like “Morning After Coffee,” which featured just her voice and a few slow plucks on the cello’s strings. Her music, however slow, and sleepy it may be, is mesmerizing, thanks to her incredible voice: a piercing soprano that burns with emotion and commands attention with ease.
Hundred Waters were the perfect counterbalance to a set of such solitary stillness. It is worth noting that Brighton Music Hall is a seated venue, an odd choice for a band as vibrant and danceable as Hundred Waters, who might be better suited to a venue like The Sinclair. The first few songs, including high-energy tracks like “Jewel In My Hands” and “Particle,” were a bit awkward. The band gave it their all, playing the closest thing to dance floor bangers they had, while the audience sat still and watched. About three songs in, lead singer Nicole Miglis leaned into the mic and told us the answer to all of our problems: “you know, you can stand up if you want…” And suddenly the crowd was on its feet dancing as the band ripped into a stunning rendition of the old fan-favorite “Cavity.”
Despite all the electronics, the futuristic laser lights, and the inhumanly beautiful voice of Nicole Miglis, the band members presented themselves as a very friendly, down to earth group of people. They talked about seeing the movie It the day before (Miglis had painted her cheeks red in tribute), laughed to the audience about equipment malfunctions, and generally endeared themselves to everyone there. They were also, of course, superbly talented. One of my favorite parts of the show was seeing how the songs took on new life in a live setting, as the three band members subtly tweaked each one, ad-libbing and improvising to create new arrangements on the spot.
After a riveting set of surging beauties like “Blanket Me,” and quieter numbers like “Parade,” the audience couldn’t stop cheering, and the band came back on for an encore. Following an earth shattering performance of their early hit “Boreal,” we were all treated to an improvised piano-and-vocal rendition of “Show Me Love.” The song was well chosen. Who wouldn’t want to show Hundred Waters love after a set like that? I know I did.
Listen to Kelsey Lu here:
Listen to Hundred Waters here: