by Riley Flanagan
Cover image credit: Daniel Topete.
Up-and-comer Sabrina Teitelbaum, known onstage as Blondshell, has been opening for Suki Waterhouse on her “Coolest Place in the World” tour. This indie-rock new blood has been making her way onto music lovers’ playlists in recent months, even being featured on Spotify’s Fresh Finds. Like the explosive her name emulates, Blondshell’s appearance on the scene was sudden and incendiary. The first of her six singles, “Olympus,” was released on June 8th of last year. In just six months, her sound has caught the attention of many, including Bandsplain podcast host and music enthusiast Yasi Salek, whose recommendation it was that pointed me towards Blondshell’s music. I’ve been a fan ever since.
When the clock struck 8:00 at Paradise Rock Club, Blondshell walked onstage casually and with confidence. She and her band went straight in with “Veronica Mars,” a recent release with an early-2000s pop-punk feel. Sabrina’s presence is chilled; she paces slowly back and forth, extending forwards or backwards while her voice maintains its deep cadence. She’s dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, her namesake blonde hair pulled back in a bun. Everything about her is casual, which is why I, and I’m sure many others, find her so accessible. Next up was “Cartoon Earthquake,” a more melodic tune that was released as a Spotify Single in October, and then “Sepsis,” my personal favorite single of Blondshell’s.
The lyrics in “Sepsis” are achingly honest and demanding of respect, both narratively and in the industry. Sabrina’s writing speaks volumes to her emotional vulnerability and the strength she pulls from such honesty. Sabrina found inspiration for “Sepsis” in Hole’s “Doll Parts,” another nakedly emotional anthem that confronts insecurity in romance. This candid expression extends past Blondshell’s lyricism and bleeds into her interaction with the crowd. She shares that ”Salad,” an unreleased track likely to appear on her upcoming self-titled debut album, is about “people who do very shitty things to the people you love.” This song was angstier than Blondshell’s other singles, and the lighting switched to a moodier red and chartreuse mix. Throughout this performance, Sabrina continued to stretch and sway, and even sat down slumped on stage, her voice still clear and powerful. This speaks volumes about her raw talent – performing seems effortless to her, a second nature, and I cannot wait to see more of this from her in future performances as she grows artistically.
After playing “Olympus,” Sabrina jokes that when writing it, she never expected to end up performing this song “for a thousand Suki Waterhouse fans,” to which someone in the crowd called out: “We came here for you!” Followed by more cheering, I saw this moment as an indication of Blondshell’s imminent rise to popularity this year. If people are buying tickets to shows that she’s merely opening at, tickets for a headlining show will certainly be a hot commodity.
The next song was a cover of “Disappointment” by the Cranberries, a haunting tune that played perfectly with Sabrina’s voice and indie rock sound. “Joiner” was next, the most recent release and a single off of the upcoming album. Before this song, Sabrina shared that the lyrics were an exploration of all of the intricate “in-between” feelings you could have about something that happened to you, as opposed to a strong opinion one way or another. A song about nuanced nostalgia, if you will. Then was “Kiss City,” an alt-rock tune about desire and the need to be seen as your own person in romance. Blondshell wrapped up her set with another unreleased song full of angst and longing. This performance came to a close with her lyrics intertwining with wails and yells, the words “can’t make it better” devolving into mere noises as her band played to a finish.
If Blondshell’s cool-girl characteristics don’t have you immediately sold, then her vocal performance and nuanced lyricism certainly should. Everything about her indicates a sharp rise to fame in the scene, so I suggest you hop on Sabrina’s bandwagon so you can say you were there when the Blondshell dropped.
Blondshell’s debut album is out April 7 via Partisan Records.
Bonus: check out some photos of headliner Suki Waterhouse’s performance here.