Indigo De Souza
September 26, 2021 at Brighton Music Hall
Packed with shimmering vape clouds, thick leather jackets, and an eclectic mishmash of piercings in every location known to man, the line to get into the Indigo De Souza concert at Brighton Music Hall was made up of the most concentrated collection of Doc Martens Boston has ever seen – that is, until the Phoebe Bridgers show the next night.
The jittery lines of pre-show conversation that managed to penetrate the feverish din were often comical, shouts of “I’ve waited my entire life for this moment, I’m going to actually pass away the second she steps out onstage,” contrasting wonderfully with the usual response, “That’s cool! I’ve only heard one song by her, but I’m excited.” That “one song” being, of course, “Take Off Ur Pants,” De Souza’s energizing hit that always seems to come on Spotify autoplay at the perfect time.
Local darling three-piece Horse Jumper of Love opened for De Souza, wowing the crowd with their shoegaze/slowcore hits – notably “Orange Peeler” and “Ugly Brunette,” marked by heavy use of guitar pedal effects, sending beautifully cascading walls of sound to wash over the audience. Many of their pieces played were off of their 2016 album Demo Anthology, a release that is very much what its title describes, characterized by its grainy white noise-backed vocals, sparse guitar parts, and overall gloominess. Notably, however, Horse Jumper managed to turn their literal demo anthology into a very exciting, high-octane live set, trading out their soft fingerpicking and gentle murmurs for face-twisting screams and screeching guitar riffs while still maintaining the beauty of each transformed song.
Then, Indigo De Souza. Later, midway through her set, she casually remarked, “Right before I come onstage I always feel like I’m about to die, like, my whole body starts to break down, but then once I’m here it’s fine.” This was not at all evident as she stepped onstage for the first time – her wide grin and gleaming eyes darting across the venue as she adjusted her guitar strap could’ve convinced any member of the audience that she’d never been quite so at home in her entire life. Ironic, then, that her opener song, a (seemingly unreleased) haunting slow-burn, reached its climax with a breathtaking cry of, “I don’t feel at home… in this house… in this world.”
De Souza’s band, consisting of an overalls-and-moustache-clad bassist (Mario?), an incredibly tall guitarist who received feral screams of adoration from the middle-right side of the audience every time he bent a high note, and a drummer with the most ferocious blonde mullet this side of New England, delivered an electrifying performance. The highlight songs were “Die/Cry” with its entrancing hookline (“I’d rather die / Than see you cry!”) and “How I Get Myself Killed,” a self-destruction anthem that left the audience too emotionally distressed to be able to deliver even a fraction of the applause it deserved.
By the end of the set, the audience was in complete shambles, and she hadn’t even played the masterpiece of musical catharsis titled “Take Off Ur Pants” yet. Grinning into the mic, De Souza whispered, “We have one more song for you, thank you so much.” The audience trembled in anticipation, ready to scream, and she gleefully launched into… “Kill Me”? What? It made sense for her finale to be the closer of her new album (Any Shape You Take), especially given the recent nature of its release, and it’s a fantastic song, grabbing the audience by the throat as was per. Yet, I was still a little mystified. Indigo De Souza’s most popular song, left off the setlist. That’s hilarious! Why would she do that? Did she just not feel like playing it? Does it not sound good live? Was it something deeper, like a resentment of its popularity, feeling that it isn’t a true representation of her art?
As the song came to a close, the band smiled, thanked the audience one more time, and stepped offstage to the deafness-inducing roars of applause, joy, desire, and a significant amount of crying. Screams for an encore reached a feverish pitch after about a minute and a half of applause, but De Souza and band showed no indication of peeking their heads through that curtain once more. Slightly disappointed, but overall absolutely thrilled with the night’s performance, I turned towards the merch table, hoping to scoop up any CDs that I could get my hands on. But, halfway through taking my first step, a single shriek of “YES!” cut through the din. And another. Soon, the crowd was losing its mind as the band sprinted back onstage and immediately launched into the song of the hour, “Take Off Ur Pants,” and it did not disappoint. Every word that left De Souza’s mouth was gleefully echoed back by the entire contents of Brighton Music Hall, with some hardcore fans even singing along to the song’s iconic bassline, a perfect end to a stellar show.
Reflecting on the show on the T ride home, I found myself still wondering why De Souza didn’t have “Take Off Ur Pants” on the setlist, choosing to rather risk it all and hope that the crowd demands an encore. Then, a thought popped up out of the corner of my memory – when the band first “ended” their set, they left their instruments onstage, plugged in, amps on, PA levels intact. They knew they would be coming back on. They knew we would need an encore. They knew they would be playing “Take Off Ur Pants.”
Indigo De Souza went into her show believing that it would be so incredible that the audience would be on its hands and knees begging for more by the end of it. The best part is? She was right.