By Harrison Smith /// Staff Writer
Stomach full of pizza and homemade mimosa, I rolled up to the Holocene feelin’ some type of way about seeing one of my favorite artists of 2015: Julia Holter. Actually, I also ate this side food-creation called “knots” beforehand as well. They’re essentially like tied-up breadsticks, which is great but had me questioning the normality of eating bread and oil as a side dish to a bread-and-oil-based meal. Anyway, the avant-pop/baroque-pop/art-pop chanteuse and fantastic composer has been riding a wave of critical and popular success for her last release “Have You in My Wilderness,” a soaring and crashing journey through freedom, melancholy, and dangerous love. She commands both a stunning level of poise and orchestral beauty and a fearless attitude towards experimentation and genre variation. Holter has been around since 2010, playing with musique concrete, electronic atmospheres, intoxicating jazzy adventures, and Machaut-influenced strings all under the guise of “pop” music. Her style brings touchstones like Fiona Apple, St. Vincent, Julianna Barwick, and (contemporary and collaborator) Laurel Halo to mind.
Striding up to her microphone and Nord synthesizer, she quickly won over the audience with both her elegance and drawling deadpan wit. Upon running into some technical difficulties with the drummer’s cymbals, she quipped, “I was all ready to just show up and sing like some music god. But I guess I’ll talk a bit and play a song and then talk for maybe another hour.” She proceeded to sip her wine and launch straight into “Horns Surrounding Me” a throbbing and atmospheric track from her 2013 record “Loud City Song.” Although there was a disappointing lack of saxophone at her show, the synth, stand up bass, drums, viola, and three vocalists created a large and satisfying sound, important for her music especially because of her tendencies towards highly dynamic, complex arrangements. At one point the violist created a real-time delay effect by repeating Julia’s vocal phrases a beat after. Julia kept the rhythm by slapping her leg forcefully while staring intensely into the bright lights of the venue. That organically constructed tension alone was irresistibly impressive.
Of course, assholes are everywhere. Thankfully Julia paid no mind to their abrasive shouting. I swear, these people should be under house arrest or something, or at least keep their spewing of vile filth to YouTube comments. The almost 7-minute epic “Vasquez” completely drowned them out, especially when the band stretched it even longer, veering into eastern-melodic shredding, free-jazz percussion, and synth drones for an extra 5 minutes, inciting a chorus of roars and whoops from the audience. She closed with a rousing rendition of “Sea Calls Me Home,” the “smash hit single” from HYIMW (if such a thing exists in the underground music world). Anyway, I snatched up that #yung #vinyl and passed out soon after so I wouldn’t have a mental breakdown in my 9:10 am class.
When you return home weary from a #lit #function next weekend, turn down “Barter 6” or “DS2” and let Julia’s sprawling creations “get” you (and consider buying a record for once and deleting your shitty Spotify).