Review: Laura Stevenson Is An Indie Pop Powerhouse [Opinion]

It’s a cold night in New York City and there is a line outside of Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village. The doors open at 6pm with the show starting a half hour later. The venue is set in the basement of Le Poisson Rouge with a merchandise table set up for the headliner Laura Stevenson. They have her four full-length albums on a cork table with t-shirts hanging off the pipe on the wall.

The opening bands Field Mouse and Soccer Mommy both reflect the sonic dynamics that Laura Stevenson has utilized throughout her discography. Soccer Mommy’s set was a solo act with Sophie Allison on an electric guitar. The reverb added a haunting aesthetic to her finger picking which combined with her soft yet vibrant voice filled the room. She played a small eight-song set before Field Mouse’s full band came up to the stage. Field Mouse played songs off their 2016 album Episodic. The five-piece band started loud with dream pop raised the spirits of the crowd from the more somber music that preceded them. People are jumping up and down with drink in hand spilling on the basement floor.

Laura Stevenson and the Cans came up and immediately dove into their 2015 release Cocksure with “Ticker Tape.” It’s a track driven by drums and a simple power chord structure that deals with Stevenson’s depression through the lens of transience. There’s a breath between this song and the next, but only a small one before beginning “Emily in Half.” The band mostly plays the songs as they sound on the album with vocal variations on the part of Stevenson. The guitarist John Burdick, different from their usual touring band, uses different pedal effects that make guitar lines sound more clean and even laser-like. This added a different dynamic to Stevenson’s songs that felt like the buzz was in the air. This coupled with Stevenson’s wailing voice that doesn’t even need a microphone really elevate the live experience.

They pressed on and played songs from their older albums Sit Resist, Wheel, and Cocksure. This all lead into a song from her first album A Record titled “A Shine To It” which she stated she didn’t play much anymore. It was a song that she wrote for her then-boyfriend/now-husband Mike Campbell, the bassist for the band about trying to get him a gift that has what the song title suggests. The two play the song together without the rest of the band adding to the intimacy of show. Before bringing up the band again Stevenson decided to treat the show goers to a new song that said was untitled. She played this song solo and it displayed themes that she uses throughout her work. It’s a song about struggling with being a professional touring musician and how that wreaks havoc on the rest of her life. When she finishes she makes the audience her confidantes and confesses that she can’t wait for her tour to be over the following night.

The band comes back up on stage and they begin the end of their set. They still travel throughout her albums by “Halloween Pt. 1 & 2,” a song from the perspective of film serial killer Michael Myers, to “the Wait,” a song about frustrating circumstances that feel like her “life’s work is waiting for a train to come.” Before she plays her last song “Jellyfish,” she thanks her father who has been jumping up and down while singing along to every song she played right in front only adding to the personal feel of this overall show.

[Featured Image by People Images/iStock]