featuring Dazey and the Scouts, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, and Oompa
March 16, 2018 @ The Sinclair
By: Laura Shrago
Photos By: Clio Fleece
Palehound’s show at the Sinclair was an immensely empowering and energetic experience — it was so much more than I could have imagined. The night’s lineup provided the audience with a diverse array of performance. The range of forms of expression represented by the different acts left the audience empowered and in high spirits.
Dazey and the Scouts opened the show with a bang, performing songs off their 2017 album Maggot. Their energy was infectious, evident from the bobbing heads all throughout the venue. Lead singer Lea Jaffe embodied an astounding balance of anger and tenderness with her mix of near-yelling and fairy-like vocals. It was refreshing to see a woman be unabashedly loud and expressive while still embracing traditional femininity through splashes of tender vocals.
Poet Melisa Lozada-Oliva followed the exciting opener. Her presence was a charming combination of awkwardness and hilarity that she described as “the Latina Zooey Deschanel” (bangs included). Her poems detailed the experiences of being a Latina woman who grew up with immigrant parents, using a combination of wit and intensity that captivated the room so strongly that the room was silent. She read poems from her book Peluda, which included topics such as privilege, representation, emotional labor, and men being condescending. Many moments elicited whooping cheers in agreement and support. Her presence on stage was powerful as she spoke with poise and elegance, while still being relatable to an audience with similar experiences to hers.
Oompa’s performance prepped the audience for Palehound by energizing everyone with soulful instrumentals, empowering lyrics, and spirited messages. I honestly am struggling to describe the experience of standing before them during their performance without saying the words “energetic” and “empowering” ad nauseam, because that’s truly was what it was. Their music was beautiful and their content empowering, especially to the marginalized communities the music spoke about. The vibe of the room was incredible with people dancing and jumping as she flawlessly executed her quick vocals. Partway through her performance, she took a moment to address the issue of marginalized people often made to feel like they don’t deserve to take up space, and she encouraged the audience members to allow those people to take up space that night. After speaking to her briefly after the show, it was evident how genuine and Oompa is, and that she enjoys what she does so fully that it shined through the entire performance.
Palehound was met with an ecstatic audience after two hours of empowering acts. The Sinclair had been filling up gradually throughout the night and by this point, it was totally packed. The band’s setlist mostly included songs from their 2017 sophomore album, which focused a lot on lead singer Ellen Kempner’s experiences with loss and finding her place in the queer community (which we discussed in our interview before the show). Watching Palehound perform was such a treat. Their movement onstage was heartwarming and it was clear they were having the time of their lives, bouncing to their own music and exchanging smiles with each other throughout the set.
Kempner’s execution of ‘Molly’ seemed effortless despite the quick and intricate guitar work, showcasing her raw talent. Bassist Larz Brogan was nearly jumping around the stage during the upbeat songs, moving back and forth with her bass so much that she was basically just dancing with an instrument in her hands. During instrumental breakdowns in the livelier songs, Kempner would back up from her mic a bit and dance as well, often facing Brogan as they both played out their parts with big smiles. Watching the band felt so genuine, they just seemed like friends jamming out together for fun. Except really, really good. When performing ‘Backseat (A Place I’ll Always Go)’, Brogan looked so at peace she may as well have been floating in the air. There was minimal talking between each song, which was a cool musical experience. Listening to the band perform was like listening to them on shuffle, but in real life.
This show was incredibly refreshing because of the dynamic display of strong women all bringing their personal experiences and talents to the stage and a diverse audience through an eclectic set of performance mediums. To see women able to express themselves in whatever way suited them — whether it be loud, poetic, in a sweatshirt, or dancing around stage — was pretty incredible. During times of stress for many marginalized communities in a difficult political realm often inciting dangerous behavior upon these groups, it was liberating to see a group of powerful women who represent these communities and how strong they are. Throughout the show, I kept thinking about how glad I am to be able to live in a time where there are spaces where all women — queer women, women of color, first generation American women — can express themselves without fear. Seeing this show was proof of strength and the ability of women to take their experiences, make careers and art centered on those experiences, and succeed at it.