The freshly opened venue easily contained the crowd of buzzing, mostly twenty-somethings (who, in sum, looked almost exactly like the image I conjured in my head pre-show), adorned in their own oversized t-shirts, tattoos and predictably lush heads of hair.
From a glowing bar toward the back, to side tables to the right of the stage — there was space for everyone within a space that felt simultaneously intimate, yet spacious.
I, for one — a first-time solo concert-goer, and this show being my first since we entered pandemic times — opted for the side tables. I was understandably feeling a bit anxious, and the prospect of, well, not standing, sounded very attractive in my racing mind. It was strange to be fully surrounded by sound and strangers again. I built up some courage to ask to sit down at a table with a few nice-looking guys, lightly chatting, sipping on their PBRs. They said, “sure.”
Eventually, the lights dimmed — and perhaps less notably, on me and my nifty, leather-bound notebook and click-pen. At this point, I was alone at the table — the guys across from me had since left. My anxiety was hitting new heights — finding myself fully alone at this table, my iMessage inbox empty, and my whole external justification for being alone, my pen and paper, caked in a sea of darkness.
So when I saw the guys from my table getting on stage, all I could do was let out a laugh. Turns out I’d been sitting with some of the members of Horse Jumper of Love, the opening band.
My shoulders relaxed, and I let out a full-body sigh. A simple moment of everyday coincidence happened to shake me out of my anxious stupor, even if just momentarily. I resolved to put less energy into the notebook, and put my mind toward trying to enjoy my first concert in two years.
And as if the universe was putting in overtime to prove a point, my pen ran out of ink about three songs into Indigo’s set. I didn’t realize it until I got home.
Apparently, I was sitting with some real rock-n-rollers. Horse Jumper of Love thrashed through some yell-sung ballads, gritty guitar anthems, and other guttural tracks that perfectly set the scene for the angst-laden act that would follow.
Indigo De Souza is touring in promotion of her new album “Any Shape You Take,” released earlier this year — her first release in collaboration with indie powerhouse Saddle Creek. The record, sonically, is a step brighter when compared to her 2018 debut “I Love My Mom,” with Indigo this time taking more creative liberties in song structure and style, while the lyrical content takes similar, yet refined narrative pathways.
Indigo’s set opened with some tracks from “Any Shape You Take,” including some trachea-vibrating renditions of “Way Out” and “Bad Dream.” But the early highlight of the show was “Die/Cry,” an emblematic Indigo De Souza lyrical excursion into topics of love and mortality, and the subsequent products of their cross-pollinations. The punchy, almost comically straightforward chorus of “I’d rather die than see you cry” poured out of almost every masked mouth in the crowd, received by a permanently plastered smile on Indigo’s face throughout the duration of the track.
Halfway through the show, the crowd exuded a kind of jovial melancholy, which I was finding within myself. I was simultaneously glued to my seat — captivated by the devastating power of Indigo’s vocals and the band’s booming backbone — while every muscle and joint in my body was struggling to dance while sedentary.
The energy of the show was perfectly captured by the live version of “17.” It was stellar — capped off with a cascading, unraveling breakdown, with each member of the band speaking life into their instruments in perfect synchrony. Toward the end, Indigo ended up blissfully writhing on the floor with her guitar, and the whole band was visibly enthralled.
It was one of those moments where I wish memories could exist as more than just memories, where I wish I could pull the film reel out of my head and live it again and again.
Indigo, beaming after wrapping up a song toward the end of her set, asked the age-old concert litmus test — “we feeling good tonight?” In response, she got the usual cacophony of jumbled voices.
But Indigo, as either a conscious or subconscious recognition of the past year and a half, follows up by cautiously asking, “anyone doing bad?” She didn’t get much of a response to that, but when she re-worded her question to ask “was anyone doing bad before this?” she got an enthusiastic, resounding yes. Fitting.
Reflective of her music — seasoned with angst, dread, and most importantly, the willingness and ability to be vulnerable about those feelings — the show itself felt like a celebration of making it through the bad times, occupying a space between overcoming and persevering, between triumph and making the most of it. The air inside the Songbyrd that night, by no coincidence, spoke of celebrating survival.
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