So by this point in time, we all know my Läpsley love story. I fell for her at a very in-between, unsure time in my life. Then, this spring, she released her full-length album, Long Way Home, just as I was settling into a very comfortable, more sure time. I was feeling good about my social life, school was school, and an internship made me feel like I had some grip on career pursuits.
Because I spent all of maybe 24 hours at home this semester, I decided to grace the fam with my presence for two weeks once school ended. My broke ass brings in bank by deep cleaning apartments, I get free, delicious home-cooked meals, and I fulfill my daughterly duty. The family is tricky right now. Long story short, lots of feuding. Returning to this place I’ve intentionally distanced myself from, I realized my multiple personalities. While I like my work personality (the one that takes fist fighting lessons from her middle-aged man friends/co-workers), I’m not fond of my family personality (the one that picks away at the beer label and mentally packs as family members scream at or altogether ignore one another). I love my family; I don’t love the quiet, powerless, obsolete person I am around them.
Luckily, I walked into this situation with 21 years experience under my belt. Instead of being bummed out by finding that one of my favorite artists was playing back in Boston during my time on Cape, I swooped in on that shit and bought two tickets before even having a second person. As more family members than usual decided not to speak to each other, I hit the road. Stepping into my apartment was like crawling into jersey sheets with newly shaven legs (guys, read: heavenly). I felt at home.
Läpsley came to Cambridge on Cinco de Mayo. Because of a time crunch, though, no margaritas were had pre-concert. My boyfriend and I arrived at the Sinclair to a short line. Since I’ve yet to meet a single person who also knows Läpsley, I was happily surprised. Now, I’m sure a good number of my fellow Boston friends have been to the Sinclair, but mad props to this venue. It’s a small, but well-designed place (we’re talking three bars for a 525 person capacity place). We explored up to the second floor, finding a prime railing spot that overlooked the stage. Perfect for a crowd-claustrophobic person. The venue filled up, and it filled up with an unexpected range of people. Of course, there were other college-age kids. But there were also a fair number of young professionals in the crowd.
Morly, a soft, two-person number, opened. While Morly is still in the EP phase, they seem to have established their sound. On record and in-person, they perform soft-spoken, electronic pop/rock. Katy Morley’s delicate voice alternated between keys and guitar, while a man accompanied on drum pads and cymbals. The first song they played, “Drone Poem (In Defense of My Muse)”, a gradually building, more rock-based song, was my favorite of theirs. Hit up Morly on Spotify.
As the crew switched over, I got giddy. Part of why I was so excited to see Läpsley—aside from my obvious, obsessive love for her music—was because her songs are very highly produced. Listening to her stuff, you can tell a computer is creating many of the sounds, opposed to traditional, live instruments. And I do not, in any way, mean this as a slam. We live in the age of technology; what would you expect? And it’s especially refreshing to see a female artist largely producing her own music (link). It’s always a little dangerous, a little scary to see electronic musicians live. When Lauren and I went to see Passion Pit, we were warned (granted, fuck that, they held up). I’m happy to report, Läpsley did not let us down.
Holly Läpsley Fletcher (on record, Läpsley) was joined onstage by a bassist, a keyboardist, and a drummer, each of whom had some electronic counterpart. And here’s the real nifty thing: she used not one, but two mics. One amplified her given, gentle-yet-strong voice. The other did all sorts of things, mainly drop it way low. Still, I have to say, she had a solid range of natural vocals. She ran through songs mostly from her recent LP and charmed the crowd with a lovely British accent and sense of humor. Despite most songs being mellow (the disco-y “Operator (He Doesn’t Call Me)” aside), the set was full of energy with its soaring vocals, hard-hitting lyrics, and harder-hitting beats (check the dude on the drums in this clip). A beer-filled bladder couldn’t even rip me away from the performance. I went into this show with high, though wary, expectations and they were exceeded. Läpsley’s resonant, atmospheric music is, for me, the pinnacle of what electronic music should be; it exists and thrives beyond the headphones.
As Läpsley slayed, she reminded me of many different points in my personal development over the last year or so. I left a party sobbing, drunkenly and disgustingly smoked multiple American Spirits, and hurled all within one night. A story I worked my ass off revising for a publication was rejected. I also discovered a new narrative voice (ayoo nonfiction, someone publish me pls), made hard but healthy life choices, and spent quality time with some pretty special people. As I returned to the city for the show and made plans for the night, I felt sure and eased. My Boston personality has made mistakes, but it’s the one I actually, genuinely like. Seeing Läpsley at the Sinclair and recalling the many moments—gory and good—she has soundtracked, I was happy to be listening to one of my favorite musicians live with my boyfriend in the place I now, confidently, call home.