LP at the Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, BC, Canada
April 23rd, 2019
Guest post by Jason, an LP fan from Vancouver
I was introduced to LP’s music in 2017, and slowly, yet vigorously and passionately, her artistry snuck up on me, and I became a somewhat devoted fan. I am a failed musician who has been in three bands during my college years, and despite not succeeding nor having the intense discipline that it takes to become a professional musician, my love of music has always been, side-by-side with literature and good TV and film, my existential solace. I became an educator, but always dipped my feet in the vast waters of art, mostly as an admirer and consumer of art. I tend to listen to old stuff, though. I absolutely love classic jazz, folk, pop, rock, and a bit of electronica. In the contemporary landscape, Canada’s Arcade Fire and USA’s LP are my favourite musicians, perhaps because their sound is a bit of a bricolage of the aforementioned genres.
Last year, LP played at The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. I managed to catch a glimpse of her and the person who helps her on tour, Talayeh Nasir. I didn’t know what to expect, but I waited outside the venue during soundcheck, and ends up LP stopped by and gave me plenty of attention. We chatted a bit, and she signed my copy of Lost on You. After our brief encounter, I thought she was so kind to me, a complete stranger to her, and also demonstrably so intelligent and empathetic, that I couldn’t help but become a fan.
This year, fortunately for all, LP’s staff organized a meet and greet. Talayeh Nasir took pictures of fans with LP, and we all had a chance to speak with her for a bit. It was an interesting dynamic: Talayeh and the staff from The Orpheum Theatre oriented us to not ask for autographs, because doing so would hold up the line too much. Regardless, LP signed everyone’s stuff anyway. Someone mentioned to me that it could’ve been a “good cop/bad cop” PR move: LP’s kindness and generosity would be amplified by her “breaking the rules” and signing things for fans. I personally think it doesn’t really matter if it was a good PR stunt or not. The mere fact that she is open to meeting the people who consume her music and her merchandise is, in itself, a wonderful gift, and knowing how sensitive and other-oriented that artists tend to be, I am sure that it takes an immense emotional toll on her. Meeting fans can be stressful for the fans, but such state of openness in relation to complete strangers that are united in the name of art and the artist, certainly cannot be easy for the artist.
At the meet and greet we were given a laminate VIP Pass and this neat little poster, signed by LP.
While we waited in line to meet LP, two ladies I met brought their ukuleles to be signed. As a failed guitarist, I’ve been learning how to fail on the ukulele for the past year, so I asked one of them, the adorable and kind Keona (Her Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vancouver_kthrasher/ ) if I could take a look at her uke. I strummed and it was a bit out of tune, so I asked, and she let me tune it. Next thing you know, I begin strumming “Switchblade” and leading a bit of a singalong with the fans at the meet and greet. I was nervous but also exhilarated. Messed up the lyrics a bit… I was afraid security would show up and forbid our singalong, or perhaps something worse: that LP would hear me sing… she was, after all, right around the corner. In the end, all went well, and I also did a singalong of “One Night in the Sun” with everyone, and also tuned the other lady’s ukulele. (Unfortunately, I failed to get her name… it was a cute, real small, red ukulele, with a real nice sound…)
At the meet and greet, I suggested to LP that, as she increases in popularity, her older records would probably get some attention, and she said that she and her staff might consider looking into reissuing them. I personally think that they deserve a CD and a vinyl reissue… I am sure fans old and new would purchase them. I also told her how “All I have” is the song from her album “Suburban Sprawl & Alcohol” that messes me up the most. I then thanked her for organizing the meet and greet and said that I was glad that she and her crew made it, after the JAN 31 cancellation, and a flat tire this time around, driving from Seattle to Vancouver! She thanked me and called me boo-boo and I couldn’t wipe the immense grin on my face all night.
Last year, LP signed my copy of “Lost on You”. This year I managed to get “Forever for Now” and “Heart to Mouth” signed as well. Below, is the “Tokyo Sunrise” shirt I wore at the concert. “Tokyo Sunrise” is a very dear song to me, and arguably my all-time favourite song of LP’s.
Now, let’s get to the concert. The Orpheum is a beautiful venue. I haven’t been there in nearly 7 years, and had nearly forgotten how impressive and beautiful its neocolonial architecture (which some experts say is actually inspired in Spanish Renaissance, but is actually a mishmash of architectural styles and motifs) is.
Before the concert, I got to speak to a few random fans that weren’t at the meet and greet, and asked the same basic questions: how long have you been listening to LP’s music? Have you seen her perform before? What’s your favourite song of hers? Most people I approached to chat with in line at the bar, in line at the washroom, or near my seat, discovered LP’s music about a year ago, and were self-proclaimed new fans. Everyone said “Lost on You” was their favourite song, and everyone I spoke to was seeing her for the first time. I thought that the diversity of the crowd was truly impressive: there were adults such as myself, but also a fair amount of elders, and a fair amount of younger people. Many men and women, there was no dominant group, which proves LP’s genius: her music touches and reaches the most diverse people, and this is a crucial mark of good art.
After I mingled a bit, the bell at the theatre rang, so I rushed to my seat. Then came Lauren Ruth Ward. Her short opening set begged to set the place on fire, given the energy and the big sound of her songs, but I assume most people didn’t know Lauren because the crowd remained seated, despite her riffs and voice and moves and beats begging for you to dance or move or jump. Lauren’s music is pretty rock n’ roll, alright! My aunt, whom accompanied me to the gig couldn’t stop gushing about how cute she thought Lauren was, and how badass her stage presence and huge voice are. LRW is impressive indeed, and I look forward to seeing her backed up by her full band!
Now… let’s finally get to LP. Full disclosure: this is where things get emotional, so I ask you to please bare with me if this reads a tad sentimental or campy. I am sentimental and campy by nature…
This is a picture of last night’s setlist. Thank you to the kind lady who got it and let me take a picture of it for this report.
LP opened with “Dreamcatcher”. I absolutely adore “Dreamcatcher”, but since “Heart to Mouth” was released, it always seemed a bit out of place to me. I understand this is none of my business, and it is totally LP’s prerogative to choose her opening track, which song to set the stage, or cleanse our palates or get ready, but to me as beautiful as “Dreamcatcher” is, it always sounded like a mid-record or mid-set track. For the concert, for instance, I believe opening with a straight- out banger such as “Special” or even “When I’m over you” would put the crowd in a different mood from the get-go. On the other hand, “Dreamcatcher” is a glimpse of calm before the storm of beats and riffs and screams and emotions that would follow.
And “When we’re High” did just that: got everyone standing and singing and moving around. “Dreamer” followed and the crowed remained standing and clapping and singing along, but when “When I’m Over You” came, to my surprise, it was total chaos and catharsis… I didn’t realize how popular the song was, and a bunch of people ran in front of the stage and made the little black stands in front of the stage where LP comes closer to the crowd, into a little dance floor of its own. Security complied and let it happen without any issues, thank goodness!
I also rushed to the stage during “When I’m Over You” and despite not being able to frame myself correctly in the picture, my hat thanked me for featuring so prominently in a picture with its favourite singer
I personally think “When I’m Over You” is the strongest track in “Heart to Mouth”, and it was an early favourite of mine. I wrote about the significance of this song to me earlier in this blog. I was super pleased to see that a lot of people freaked out and danced and jumped and busted out some crazy dance moves like I did… it’s nice when more people connect to something you like.
Then came “No Witness”, and it sounded heavier, to me. LP definitely went full on rock n’ roll. Proof is the sequence of songs: Sex on Fire (Kings of Leon cover), and “Die for Your Love”. “Die for Your Love” was the second song of “Heart to Mouth” that I obsessed with. I love the beat, the harp arrangement, the lyrics. I’m an idealist and I strongly relate to the idea of being in love and taking a bullet for someone. Such a beautiful song. I think I ruined the song for the people who were sitting close to me, so I’d like this to be my public apology as well, in case anyone there remembers me and reads this. I was shouting the lyrics so loud that I sorta began a chorus of “at least I’ll go to heaaaaaaveeeeen” during the song, to the extent that LP laughed, and a gentleman in front of me turned towards me and clapped after the song was over. (Probably ironically… I’m so embarrassed and so sorry, but as you will see, I did it again later…)
Then came “Tightrope”, and a bunch of us busted out the beautiful red ribbons that fan clubs from the USA and Mexico brought and distributed to us. By the way, I want to register that it was a real pleasure to see Dulce Salvador (https://www.instagram.com/dgadsky/ ), whom I met last year at the Commodore Ballroom, once again. She distributed the ribbons from the Mexican fan club. She came all the way from Mexico City to see LP, and she and her son, who lives here in Vancouver, make the most beautiful, creative and interesting gifts for LP, Lauren and Orson. Dulce is a real sweetheart, and I’d like to publicly thank her for the ribbons and for being such a cool person.
Well, after “Tightrope”, came an extremely emotional song for me. It was the first song from “Heart to Mouth” that I learned to play on the uke, and it is a song that took a while to sink in, and once the lyrics hit me, it hit me hard. I sang/shouted so hard and loud, and made crazy gestures and cried a bit during “One Night in the Sun” (and hit my chest real hard every time LP sang “did you let me go / did you let me go / for the good life?) that after the song was over I felt like hiding under my chair. Once again, I’m sorry, everyone! My aunt told me that all she could hear was me singing. How embarrassing! When “Girls go Wild” came on, I promised myself to just dance and sing in my head, moving my lips silently. And I kept my promise until the end.
“Recovery” came and everyone sat down. LP nailed it. It’s impressive how she gets into character to make the song believable and convey emotion. I know LP really likes fast songs, and as she told Anna in her interview, she has rock in her, but in my opinion, I think that this would’ve been a perfect opportunity for a mid-set slow ballad moment. “Tokyo Sunrise” and “Switchblade” are beautiful ballads that would’ve fit nicely after “Recovery”. Interestingly enough, all songs from “Forever for Now” were dropped from this tour cycle, of promoting “Heart to Mouth”.
So after “Recovery”, the fast pace continued with everyone standing up and dancing and moving and shouting again, with “House on Fire” / “Paint it Black” (Rolling Stones cover), a heavier, to me, rendition of “Other People”, “Shaken”, and last, but not least, “Special”.
Everyone goes wild on the West Coast! A glimpse at the stage inside the beautiful Orpheum Theatre, right before LP’s concert.
LP and the gang came back after the entire audience clapped and shouted non-stop for about 5 minutes, and as encore, they played “Muddy Waters”. Then they brought the theatre down with “Lost on You”. The lights were on and there were smiles and hugs and thank yous, and see you laters, and see you next times, and an overall sense of catharsis, because that’s the power of good art, and that’s the power that LP has: she guides us through a rollercoaster of thoughts and feelings and impressions and rhythms in a very unique, powerful way. It is my guess that even if LP doesn’t become an extremely popular artist, she will go down in musical history as a highly influential musician, that will always have a sizeable cult following. I simply adore her, and I look forward to following the next steps of her career. She is a musician that can seemingly do anything, so I cannot help but wonder what comes next. Will she delve into her Italian roots and record Italian folk songs? She can do it. Will she go into the studio and revisit her rock n’ roll roots? This album cycle seems to be hinting at that, given the return of the guitar and the limited use of the ukulele (perhaps to avoid being pigeon-holed as a ukulele artist?) Will she just turn the tide and go fully electronic-pop? She can do that too. Will she just surprise everyone and record a pop opera?
Whatever she does, we’ll be here, following her, and it is bound to be of high quality. It is safe to say that she earned her fanbases’ trust.
(Thanks to LP & Lauren, Talayeh, Alex, Brian, the drummer whose name I missed, the technicians and roadies… you guys offered us a great, memorable night, and I wish you all the best in your careers, and I look forward to seeing you again!)
Thank you to Annia for publishing this report.
And thank YOU, reader, LP fan, for your attention to my words. Please feel free to email me if you wish to start an exchange. Please ask Anna, and we can provide you my email address.
P.S.: LP added “Strange” in the middle of the encore. I followed the setlist when writing the report and forgot to include it! It was a beautiful moment with everyone singing along about how strange we are… and I really do hope we never, never, ever change… Thanks to Donna-Marie for reminding me, and for forgiving my terrible ukulele skills and singing along… 😉