Last Saturday was a haunt and treat as I got to see Zola Jesus. I lucked out with the whole deal as a friend was in town for a wedding and there was a chance I wouldn’t be able to see the show. But the wedding was in the evening, it was Halloween weekend, and it all fell together. The tightly packed Mohawk provided an unexpected intimate show. It also shielded me from the wacky action outside.
We thought the show would be outside in the open area of the Mohawk but due to the ghosts and goblins out there, it was moved inside. Apparently, it was so scary that the Crystal Antlers were late and the line up had to be rejiggered. The first act, Boy, had some technical issues and finished out their Weezer like set recovering from the setback. The other guy, drilled through some haunting drum and bass type electro to get the crowd moving. He shook the room so much I though I saw pieces fall down from the ceiling.
The attraction for the night was Zola Jesus. Her haunting voice echoed throughout the Mohawk and shook me to my bones. She has a unique way of singing because she wanted to be an opera singer but just couldn’t quiet cut it. I’m glad she switched gears. It stuns me to think she can belt out that voice with a tiny, tiny body she has. I wonder how big that voice would be if she was bout a foot taller.
There’s something epic with the way the songs, like my favorite ‘Night.’ I can’t quite put my finger on it, but they also seem to build into a grand, bellowing finish. Some of the other songs subtlety lay out the beats and twists her phrases into a dance incantation. At some point, the crowd was bouncing around the room and at other points there we standing in awe. It was a complete set.
She may not be a mega star someday, but her unique blend of music is always a refreshing change of pace. Halloween outside was rough and unruly, the show inside was warm and comforting. I caught up with the wedding after party and gushed all over about Zola Jesus. I’m still gushing now. I can’t help it, her songs are haunting me happily in my head.