I think I started to realize what I was in for when the house music had Portishead, Nick Cave, Television, and under the radar Patti Smith cut “Pissing in a River” going before the show. Though I’d still argue that Remind Me Tomorrow is more putting on a new layer of paint than completely restructuring an artist’s past work, in the live setting, there was a marked difference between every aspect of Etten’s persona on her old and new tunes.
Taking the stage with a vengence, Etten blistered through the brooding synths of “Jupiter 4” and the fist bumping granduer of “Comeback Kid” like a Nick Cave or Patti Smith type figure, preaching her words with a heavy dose of attitude.
After briefly taking up her more typically indie rock stage presence, with old guitar friend “Ruby” in tow, Etten was back to her newfound (perhaps sci-fi TV acting influenced) persona, carrying a wind chime around the stage for a haunting rendition of “Memorial Day.” Having come from “Tatifa,” “Memorial” was like flicking a light switch from day to night.
Her band also animated her songs in the live setting in slightly more intense ways, again ramping up the (dare I say) gothy new territories hinted at on the album proper. Bit more flanger on the bass guitar here and there, more wobble to a keyboard or a distorted guitar a bit more present in the mix made for nearly apocalyptic moments as each slow burning song chugged on.
Towards the end of her set, Etten took the rock star persona to less ellusive and more emotionally direct places with the almost honky tonk groove to “Your Shadow” or the strained belting of “Hands.” Sitting at the piano for a Sinead O’Connor cover (“Black Boys on Mopeds”), Etten directed the audience in a deep breath to let the tension subside for a minute after that one.
My picture is from the climax of “Seventeen” (of course) and save a sparky rendition of classic “Serpents,” the show took up more of a tone of romanticism to end things off with the lovely “Stay” ending off the set proper and “Love More” sending us off into the night. One to remember for sure.