September 21, 2017 @ The Sinclair
The Sinclair, in Cambridge, is a universal venue. No matter what artist graces its stage, the venue manages to adapt its ambiance to any particular audience. While some venues are made for moshing, and some for resounding acoustics, The Sinclair fits either, and it was on a humid Thursday night that Margaret Glaspy filled The Sinclair with her brutal honesty and ass-kicking voice.
Margaret’s songs seem to have a very straightforward presentation on the surface, both musically and lyrically. But as the old onion cliché states, there are tons of layers to be peeled away from her performance. Glaspy is a remarkably talented instrumentalist, and her guitar driven songs open a long-forgotten doorway to rock’s past. She is a modern minimalist in her performances, giving life to those classic shows that were once filled with guitar solos and stern faces. On stage she is as powerful as her guitar when she sings about love, fear, joy, and all of those beautifully terrifying things that make us human. Audience interaction isn’t a driving force in her performance, and for an artist this confident and soul-rattling, that’s perfectly fine. She proves her versatility as well by fluidly transitioning from songs like ‘Emotions and Math,’ full of Janis Joplin-esque raspiness and stomach rumbling chords, to ‘Love Like This,’ sprinkled with gorgeous falsettos and a much softer, almost folkloric sounding strum to her guitar.
Glaspy’s straightforward attitude towards music is a call to something important in performance art. If an artist can’t get on stage and just perform without losing an audience, then something has to be done. There are no gimmicks or games in her shows; she is providing exactly what the people want to hear. In a way, she is a modern rebel, giving quality to something that has lost its touch in recent years. No stage diving, no invitations for violence, no Q&As, just music in a remarkably pure form.
Preceding her late performance were Slow Dancer and Sydney Gish, two up and coming artists who, like Glaspy, are very familiar with their craft while still trying new and exciting things with it. Gish, as one of her songs states, is ‘Buckets of Fun’ to watch on stage, and has an enchanting presence. Slow Dancer is a nice contrast to Gish, smooth in presence and thoughtful in his music. The title of his recent album In A Mood, says more than enough about what he brings to the table (you can read my interview with him here.) The Sinclair proved once again that it knows how to choose their shows, and these three acts provided another weeknight success story.