photos by Amanda Hatfield, words by Andrew Sacher
Julia Holter made her NYC debut last night (3/6) in front of a sold out crowd at Le Poisson Rouge, and to the internet, as the show streamed live. The show was also her first with band members Christopher Votek (cello) and Corey Fogel (percussion), who she had done the live arrangements with.
Though Julia's new album Ekstasis (due out 3/8 via RVNG Intl.) sounds remarkably organic for a "bedroom" album, when the band came in on set opener "Marienbad," the live arrangements proved to be even more natural sounding. All of the drum machines on her album were replaced by Corey Fogel, who was actually playing a fairly standard rock kit (though he only used it as such for about 30 seconds) and Julia's voice was completely free of the muffled vocal production on the album. The different arrangements were slightly startling at first, but as the set went on and the band settled in, they ended up accenting her songs really well. Julia seemed both nervous and excited in between songs, thanking us for coming after only a few songs, but while she and her band were playing, she couldn't have been more confident. Her voice was much larger live than on album and she delivered those off-kilter vocal runs ("we go, we go, we go, we go, we go, we go, we go outside") effortlessly.
The set consisted of every Ekstasis track except "Boy in the Moon" and also included "So Lillies" and "Try To Make Yourself A Work Of Art" off last year's Tragedy. The set had essentially no low points but the highlight of the night came in the string of the four final songs. The first of those was album closer, "This Is Ekstasis," which is probably her craziest song (I wish she'd get a sax player for those sax freakouts live), but even on its most quiet and even silent moments, not a sound was heard from the crowd. She followed the song with "In the Same Room," the closest that Julia Holter comes to a pop song. After getting the most amount of head bopping from the crowd that Julia was going to get all night, it seemed like she was about to give her thanks and exit the stage, but instead she moved from her keyboard to the grand piano that opener Sarah Cahill had used earlier in the night to play an entirely acoustic version of "Moni Mon Amie" with cellist Christopher Votek. Julia and her band then ended the set with a vocoder-less version of "Goddess Eyes," the track that appears on both Tragedy and Ekstasis (actually it appears on Ekstasis twice). I've always thought it was the vocoder that made that song stand out most to me on both albums, but hearing it live with no vocals other than Julia's own unaffected voice, it ended up being the most memorable moment of her live show as well.
You can still listen to the whole show at NPR and catch Julia Holter in NYC again TONIGHT (3/7) at Other Music, where she'll be performing a free solo show at the Manhattan record store. They'll also have copies of Ekstasis for sale. She'll also return to NYC in April for Unsound Fest.
More pictures, a video and the setlist from last night's show below...
Julia Holter Setlist:
Try To Make Yourself A Work Of Art
This Is Ekstasis
In The Same Room
Moni Mon Amie