Monday, March 10, 2014

Lorde @ The Tower Theater - Philadelphia, PA 03/08/14

I want to just say this for the record.

I have the Best Friends EVER!!!

I am not sure if I have ever told them that so I wanted to make sure I threw that out there.  Thanks to one of those awesome friends I was comp'd a ticket to the Sold Out Lorde show at The Tower Theater in Philadelphia, PA.

I am already professed my love for Lorde in a previous post.  If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you have even heard me joke about carrying Lorde's baby.  So to be given a chance to see her in concert was a true gift.  One that I am not sure that I could ever repay. 

The Tower Theater was built in 1927 and opened as a movie house in Upper Darby just outside the city limits of Philadelphia.  In 1970 it was still showing movies but was not the mecca it once was.  After being renovated for a fire the first concert was held there in 1972.  Early reviews compared it to the Fillmore or The Beacon Theater.  This venue, with the capacity of roughly 3,000 people, has hosted legendary concerts by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, and The Grateful Dead. 

The interesting thing about the Lorde show is that the tickets were being sold as General Admission.  Given that I figured the crowd would be mainly teens I was very curious to see how this would turn out. 

The doors were opening at 8:00.  I arrived at 7:30 figuring I would have time to pick up my ticket and be in time for the doors.  What I wasn't expecting was the 3 block long line that was already waiting to get in.  I decided that there was no reason to stand in a line like that so I went across the street to grab a slice of pizza and wait for the line to go down.  Once I got it I went straight to get my tour shirt.

When I finally got to the front of the epic concessions line I was surprised at what I saw.  Lorde had exactly one item for sale.  A tour shirt.  One design.  Black and white.  To top it off, it had long sleeves.  There were no posters, cd's, or vinyl.  Her opening act, Lo-Fang, had a larger selection of merchandise.    Even so, I found her choice very fitting.

I grabbed a beer and decided to get my spot for the show.  When I walked into the Theater I was surprised at what I saw.  The seats had been removed from the whole front half of the floor.  The floor area was split into two section.  The half in front of the stage was occupied by the first 500 people that were in the door.  After that there was a barricade where there rest of the general admission could stand.  If you wanted to sit there were still a sections of seats behind the floor and also the balcony.  I made my way as close as I could to the barricade.

As I waited to the opening I was scanning the audience to see what the make up was.  There was a large number of teenage girls.  That I wasn't surprised about.  There was also a percentage of parents with their younger children.  I can't say that I was surprised about either.  What did surprise me was that a third of the audience were 25-40 year olds.  I was expecting to be the oldest person there without a child and I don't believe I was. may have been  And then there were a few oddities, like this guy.

Really?  A Unicorn shirt???  With Rainbow sleeves?!?  I was speechless.  I was waiting for him to call Kip and ask him to bring his chapstick.

At 9:00 the lights dimmed and Lo-Fang took the stage.  It was at that point I realized how collectively loud and high pitched the audience was.  Perhaps I misjudged the amount of teen girls in the crowd.

This was another instance where I purposefully did not listen to Lo-Fang prior to the show because I wanted to be surprised.  Lo-Fang is multi-instrumentalist Matthew Hemerlein.  Besides playing piano, bass, and guitar he is classically trained violin and cello player. His music is minimalistic electronica with an added classical element that he brings to it with his violin.  The music was moody, dark, and melodic.  I liked it.  I REALLY liked it.  But as an opening act perhaps it wasn't appropriate.  I was so chilled out I started to yawn.  I could see playing this at home at night for a certain ambiance but it was really starting to put me to sleep on my feet.  I say that as a compliment. I listened to his debut album the next day and really enjoyed it.  I would recommend giving it a spin.

After their set the stage was being prepped for Lorde.  It was a black backdrop, a few candles, and a microphone.  When a show has a large amount of teenage girls it typically offers a perfect line of sight as I am six foot tall and the Tower has a slanted floor.  But as always, the 7' guy in the crowd has to stand directly in front of me.  It happens every time.

As the lights dimmed there was an overwhelming aroma of marijuana. Perhaps I underestimated the amount of older adults in the audience.  Lorde took the stage to the eruption of a thousand or more screaming girls.  She was wearing a Crocket-esque white suit with padded shoulders, reminiscent of Miami Vice, along with a black half top.  She stood at the microphone with a single spot light and rocked a start-stop version of 'Glory and Gore'.  I apologize in advance for the photos as the lighting was non condusive for good iPhone photos.

I didn't really know what to expect to see from Lorde but I was surprised to see how into she was.  She was literally killing it.  I was anxious to see where is was going to go from here. 

Before the next song the curtain came down to expose her band.  A drummer and a keyboardist.  This actually sparked a long conversation the next day.  Even though Lorde has a tendency to get billed as Emo her music is very much Electro-Pop, albeit in a very minimalistic sense.  There may be Gothic imagery involved but it is still pop in the truest sense.  If Daft Punk were to put this same album out it would no doubt be billed as pop.  And these are the guys that had a hit with the dark and atmospheric Tron soundtrack.  With this being said, I am not surprised she went with a minimalistic two piece band. It is fitting given she is the poster girl for Anti-Bling.  But I was hoping for a larger band, and back up singers, and a choir instead of pre-recorded backing tracks.  I wanted a large production to fit the larger venue.  I realize that her music is minimalistic, as is her image, so this was not going to happen.  One can hope though.  I just feel that the performance would have been more fitting of a smaller, more intimate venue.  Given her popularity, I knew that this wasn't going to happen either.  I will say that whoever is handling her is doing a fantastic job.  I do not see this tour being anything less than profitable.

By the third song the crowd was going crazy and this night was just getting started.

I love how hard Lorde was hitting it.  It wasn't whiny, it was bravado. Every aspect of her performance was strong.  I found this video from the show on Youtube courtesy of Paul Roma.

I dug her intensity as she flowed through her set with favorites like 'Buzzcut Season'. 

Her voice was strong and sounding well.  The framed pictures on the wall came to life adding to the stage show.  For '400 Lux' they showed scenery as if you were driving in a car which was very fitting. 

 Before launching into 'Ribs' Lorde addressed the audience.  She was saying that she never speaks about her song writing process or meanings but 'Ribs was a special song and she wanted to share the meaning and story behind it.  Between the screaming and the acoustics I failed to hear very little of the  So I guess it is still a secret, to me anyways.  All I heard was something about being left home alone and being afraid growing up.  I did make out at the end that she couldn't believe that she was lucky enough to do this for a living and she was thankful to be able to share this with everyone.

It was then the moment that most people (not including me as my favorite songs are '400 Lux', 'Tennis Court', and 'Buzzcut Season') had been waiting for, 'Royals'!!!  The crowd was going wild.  And rightly so.  Near the end of the song Lorde left the stage and came back wearing a gold cape and went right into 'Team'.  The build up had been all night and the song climaxed with confetti cannons.


After this point, and 13 songs, I assumed that this would be it until she came back out for an encore.  Instead she kept going with 'A World Alone'.  Towards the end of the song the lights faded out and Lorde and her band left the stage.  When the music stopped the house lights came on.  No encore.  No Fanfare.  No Bling.  Perfectly in character. 

I had an hour drive home from the venue to listen to Pure Heroin and let the night sink in.  Strangely, the concert was surprising yet everything I expected.  I look forward to see how her career progresses.  If success will affect her lyrically.  If her follow up can live up to this.  If she will change directions.  For now it is a mystery.  For now I will just keep enjoying Pure Heroin. 

See you at the next show!


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