maddie zahm’s irving plaza show was an intricate, inspired, emotional event

maddie zahm’s irving plaza show was an intricate, inspired, emotional event

Fans had no problem waiting in the heavy, pouring rain for Maddie Zahm. Before doors even opened, the lengthy line to Irving Plaza wrapped around the venue, stretching for blocks upward. This isn’t completely odd for certain shows at Irving Plaza, but I only had one question: who was Maddie Zahm?

I hadn’t heard of Zahm before, and was quite curious. It was clear she had cultivated a very large fanbase. To figure this out, I began questioning them. I wanted to know everything about her, and was quickly given the story:

Zahm’s fanbase developed from an EP, You Might Not Like Her. With singles such as “Fat Funny Friend,” “If It’s Not God,” and the title track, “You Might Not Like Her,” Zahm went viral. She went viral on Reddit, she went viral on TikTok, she went viral pretty much everywhere. And it’s easy to see why. Zahm writes confessional lyrics about some of her most painful experiences, creating mini-memoirs. She also shares these stories on TikTok, providing a safe place where fans can experience not just her music, but who she is as a person. 

Chronicling her youth and young adulthood growing up in the church in Boise, Idaho, Zahm discusses religious trauma and how it can play out in the mental, emotional, and physical self. She also notes her bisexuality, and how the church made her feel alien unto herself as she sought to understand who she really was, entering the stage of unlearning. (In fact, in the video for You Might Not Like Her, Zahm and her parents act in a scene depicting her coming out story. The scene ends with a group hug.) Zahm has also struggled with weight gain due to her diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and describes how she was treated by her peers, with multiple scenes in the You Might Not Like Her video. 

It’s Zahm’s candor, authenticity, and unwavering kindness that have most endeared her to her fans. Now touring for her new LP, the appropriately titled Now That I’ve Been Honest, the response to Zahm has exploded. For the EP, she played at smaller New York City venues such as the Mercury Lounge. For her LP, Zahm graduated to Irving Plaza.

I began asking fans if this was their first Zahm show, the answer usually being a resounding “no.” There were, however, newer fans Zahm gained with the success of her LP, most of whom were eagerly waiting for this show since it was announced. The majority of fans revealed that they had experienced one or more of the issues Zahm addresses, offering them solace and representation. It wasn’t just the music they loved, it was Zahm herself.Her shows are safe spaces, they told me, where everyone is welcome and included. Fans also detailed how they met at Zahm concerts, from making new acquaintances to forging close friendships. 

I asked for more specifics on Zahm’s live show, which was summed up for me by one fan: “You just have to see her. It’s hard to explain. But when you see her perform, you’ll just get it.” And this fan was right, far more right than I even knew. 

When Zahm walked out onstage, she was beaming from ear to ear. In fact, the first photo I snapped was of her infectious smile. Her fans cheered and gazed at her longingly, reverently. She opted for her first song to be a slower one, the achingly beautiful “Blind Spot.” Maddie sang so close to the edge of the stage that I thought she might fall off, but I quickly understood why: Zahm wants to be as close to her fans as possible.

In between lyrics, Zahm went around to the first row, saying a quiet hi, sometimes with a wave, to each fan up front. In addition, Zahm often holds the mic to the crowd, inviting them to sing with her. It’s this collective chorus and communal space that causes fans to refer to Zahm shows as “church.”

Zahm is witty and sharp, often cracking jokes between songs. Prefacing the second track on her LP, “Eightball Girl,” she noted that her mother, upon hearing the song, asked her if she was doing cocaine. (For the record, it’s about a magic eightball.) Loud laughter echoed throughout the venue, bouncing off the walls. The balance between pain and its collective intimacy, laughter and joy, is what a Zahm show brings. It’s clear her star will keep rising—and we’ll follow with it. 

The second leg of Zahm’s tour is happening now! Dates are below:
May 20 Wooly’s – Des Moines, IA 
May 21 The Waiting Room – Omaha, NE
May 23 Center for the Arts – Jackson, WY 
May 24 Knitting Factory – Boise, ID

Zahm on the Kelly Clarkson show can be seen here.

yellowcard ignites sparks @ pier 17 in nyc

yellowcard ignites sparks @ pier 17 in nyc

When we heard Yellowcard was bringing in the big guns for their Pier 17 show in New York City, we knew we had to be a part of it. After six years away from touring, the east coast got to celebrate with the band as they honored 20 years of Ocean Avenue — a street many Brooklynites are familiar with. (Yes, we know many places have streets called “Ocean Avenue,” but we choose to claim it when we can.)

Joined by pop punk heavyweights Mayday Parade and Story of the Year, Yellowcard captivated the city crowd with their talent on stage all evening, as the lights slowly dimmed over the city. Their musicianship re-ignited a purity and interest – a spark – in music that had been feeling a little murky lately.

What an unbelievable experience, what a beautiful night.

Setlist
Way Away
Breathing
Lights and Sounds
Believe
Rough Landing, Holly
Fighting
Five Becomes Four
Holly Wood Died
One Year, Six Months
Hang You Up (with Derek Sanders)
Empty Apartment
Play Video
Childhood Eyes
Light Up the Sky
Always Summer
Awakening
Back Home
Encore:
With You Around
Only One
Ocean Avenue

the wild hearts tour closes with electric energy at central park summerstage

the wild hearts tour closes with electric energy at central park summerstage

There’s something magical that happens when you get a trio of powerhouse female musicians together. When they all take their enthusiasm for their art and tour together, it can be an invigorating experience. Photographer Christie McMenamin captured shimmering moments from the final night of the Wild Hearts Tour in Central Park, featuring Julien Baker, Angel Olsen, and Sharon Van Etten.

the mountain goats @ east river park

the mountain goats @ east river park

On August 10th, the Mountain Goats gave a free outdoor performance in East River Park at sunset, in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge. The amphitheater quickly filled with fans as the day’s heat burned off and the night became cooler.

Largely playing tracks off this year’s In League with Dragons, the Mountain Goats also peppered their sets with even more impassioned versions of fan favorites like “This Year” and of course, “No Children,” which had everyone standing and singing along in the dark. 

The most poignant moment was “Going Invisible 2,” the very last song of the encore. Singing near the edge of the stage with only a microphone, frontman John Darnielle lead the crowd in a chorus of “I’m gonna burn it all down today” over and over again, in a moment of communal sound.

snail mail @ webster hall

snail mail @ webster hall

With two sold-out shows in the New York City area at both Brooklyn Steel and Webster Hall, Snail Mail, fronted by Lindsey Jordan, is blowing up. At just 20 years old, Jordan already has two records under her belt: 2018’s Lush and 2016’s Habit EP. With Habit’s irresistibly infectious opening track, “Thinning,” Jordan began to catch the larger industry’s eye. 

Signing to seminal indie label, Matador, Lush was an immediate success, gaining Jordan a devoted fanbase. She set to work playing show after show, no matter how big the venue. Between smaller shows at Brooklyn’s Warsaw and then larger shows, such as her performance at the legendary Madison Square Garden, opening for Interpol, Jordan knows how to work a crowd. And frankly, the reason why she resonates so much with others is that she is simply and unapologeticly herself. Nowhere is this more evident than in her lyrics. With sparse, straightforward lines, Jordan is able to effectively and powerfully communicate day-to-day emotions in an understated way. In “Pristine,” Lush’s opening track, Jordan sings about never loving anyone ever again, a statement that, at first glance, seems hyperbolic. However, when one is in the throes of love lost, it’s this emotion that seems to grab us and take hold, as unrealistic as it is. That feeling in and of itself is worth exploring, and listening to Jordan express sentiments that many prefer hide is cathartic. The act of saying something out loud, no matter how seemingly silly or embarrassing, is important. It holds up a mirror to ourselves and our experiences, and compels us towards reexamination.

Further, Jordan’s fans are of all different ages. At Webster Hall, the crowd, many of whom lined up hours early in order to obtain first-row spots, ranged from teens to those in their mid-forties. This speaks directly to the shared human experience and the way music can bring people of various generations together. 

Jordan’s set, consisting of both records, was mostly sung with the audience in tow. Almost every track, especially that of “Pristine,” was a group effort. And “Pristine” itself had the added effect of the venue’s disco ball, with lights streaming around the room as squeals from the crowd heralded their addition. Ending with “Iris,” a Goo Goo Dolls cover, Jordan’s dynamic performance came to a close.

Jordan’s career is just beginning, and she’s already accomplished so much. Snail Mail is taking over the world.

Snail Mail Setlist
1) Intro
2) Heat Wave
3) Dirt
4) Slug
5) Golden Dream
6) Thinning
7) Deep Sea
8) Full Control
9) Let’s Find An Out
10) Pristine
11) Speaking Terms
12) Stick
13) Iris (Goo Goo Dolls cover)

 

yola @ chelsea market

yola @ chelsea market

Yola performed an intimate live set for YouTube Space in New York City’s Chelsea Market on July 22nd. Surrounded by cameras in a small studio, Yola and her band were unfazed by the fanfare, playing an energetic, infectious set as if no one else was in the room. Yola is an extraordinary performer; her voice takes flight, soaring on the wings of its own power, immediately capturing the listener. With her latest record, Walk Through Fire, Yola leaves no one untamed.

Largely performing tracks off Walk Through Fire, Yola peppered her set with a cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “What You Do” off 2016’s Orphan Offering.

Just four days later, Yola performed at the iconic Newport Folk Festival. She also made appearances during other sets, joining Dawes and Brandi Carlile’s The Highwomen, along with luminary Sheryl Crow. Most incredibly, she joined Dolly Parton herself.

On August 10th, she’ll be opening for Patty Griffin at Lincoln Center’s Roots of American Music Weekend: Americanafest.

Keep up with Yola here.