Americana/folk, dream pop artists Lucas Oswald and Rae Fitzgerald performed for a crowd of music-lovers and bar-goers at Louie’s Trophy House this past Sunday. Kalamazoo was the artists’ fourth stop on a national tour that began in St. Louis, made a stop at Chicago, and will end with an appearance in Dallas on October 9.
The show opened with Oswald playing both the roles of lead guitarist and lead singer, and with Fitzgerald and a third member, “Emma,” each playing on a synthesizer. Oswald’s whimsical, pensive lyrics and his smooth, ashy timbre carried each song on top of the astral droning provided by the synth’s of the other two members. The overall ambient effect of the group’s performance was complemented by Oswald’s admiration of “the buffalo behind us, the wolves in front of us, the moon above us” at Louie’s — a fitting atmosphere for the blood moon eclipse that Sunday evening.
“Honestly it put me to sleep but it was pleasant to listen to. It really got me feeling some type of way. I would describe it as an atmospheric, lush ambient sound,” said Heather Brown ‘14, who saw Oswald at Louie’s on Sunday.
The “second set” of the night was a rearrangement of the original three artists. Fitzgerald now took the lead vocals and guitar, Oswald took the synthesizer and secondary/background vocals, and Emma took the synthesizer. The sound of this combination can be described in a very similar manner to when Oswald served as the lead: smooth and hazy vocals, a background hum that calls to mind the instruments of a spaceship, and lyrics that establish an interesting contrast between the indifference of reality and the intensity of desire. Specific lines such as “When you say my name, I feel it again” and “Welcome to earth, everything hurts” illustrate this sentiment. When introducing one of her songs, Fitzgerald said that it was about “telling people you love, mostly family, what they want to hear.”
During the performance, Fitzgerald rose to her tiptoes, pressed her lips up against the mic, and whispered to the audience. Throughout the set, the sharp articulation of her “t’s”, “k’s”, & “s’s” hit the mic with a crisp, popping sound. This visible intensity in Fitzgerald’s physical reactions seemed to further reinforce the conflict between pain and longing.
In describing one of the songs in which Fitzgerald took the lead, Austen Scheer ‘14 said, “I can hear definite influence from Animal Collective and Elvis Depressedly. Good ol’ rinsing and washing.”