Artist: SKY FERREIRA
Venue: “School Night!” at Bardot, Hollywood
Date: November 12th, 2012
SOME NIGHTS YOU GET LUCKY…FINDING YOURSELF IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME…BUZZING IN HOLLYWOOD WITH NEXT-BIG-THING SKY FERREIRA
It’s a Monday night at eleven o’clock and the room is completely wall-to-wall packed. People have been stealthily crowding in around the small stage in the lower center of the room since the previous band was wrapping up their set. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder around the wings, perched on the staircases, leaning over on the railings and sitting up on the backs of the booths for a better view, the buzz in the air is palpable. If you need to go to the bathroom or the bar or anywhere else you can just forget it because even if you managed to muscle your way out, there’s no chance you’ll be squeezing back in.
What are all these stylish and tipsy people doing here? Crammed in tight, very little personal space, it’s fair to say the room is close to capacity. Yes this is Hollywood, but even the City of Angels is slow at the start of the work week, as the windy streets of Vine and Hollywood Boulevard below with barely anyone out on them will show you.
This is simply, ladies and gentlemen; exactly the Right Place at the Right Time. The reason for that is the currently not-so-well-known but soon-to-be brazenly massive artist we’ve all gathered to see perform. The drummer was at his post. The DJ behind a laptop looked ready. The guitarist and bassist were tuned up. I was just admiring the blinding neon yellow and orange fingernails of the girl to my left when she literally gasped “There she is!”
She is Sky Ferreira. At the moment she appears, people start yelling and hollering their approval before a single second of music has been played. Cute blondes in LA are more common than gridlock on the freeways, but Ms. Ferreira does not look like someone you see everyday. A porcelain baby-doll face with blood-red lips peeks out from behind a straight curtain of white-blond hair. She’s wearing a black leather skirt and a small black leather jacket with silver zippers. It’s the very best kind of black leather jacket because it looks a bit worn and frayed, like she could have just bought it for a bargain at a local thrift store.
Boom! The musicians and the backing tracks kick in. The room is pulsing to the playful synth bop of “Lost In My Bedroom”. Sky grips the mic and stares up and out at the crowd with one eye through her cascading strands. “You’re crystal clear…” Heads are rocking along, fans are dancing as much as they can in the lack of space, and you really can’t help but smile at this song. It sets the tone and it’s a casual dance party you are thrilled to be part of. It’s not freak-out raver techno-blast dancing. This is a 2012 “Post-Dubstep” indie dance groove. This style is much more fun because you don’t have to physically dance very much but you can if you want to. Also, thankfully, your head doesn’t feel like exploding from 215 beats per minute and nuclear bass-bomb drops.
But the set is not all dance moves. “Sad Dream” is an ethereal, haunting ballad Sky sings accompanied by only an acoustic guitar. She writes great lyrics. They often walk that thin line between specific and universal experience. On the surface and otherwise we have almost nothing in common, but somehow her best words describe exactly how I personally feel. “I live by my own laws – Stick to my guns, hold my head up – To the midnight sun -“ There’s more substance here than you usually find in catchy pop tunes, and this is surprisingly cool.
“Red Lips” is a certified Rocker. Neck-snapping bass and drums build to fuzzy overdriven guitars then launch into a roaring pissed-off sing-along chorus that issues a scathing dismissal to some un-classy lady who crossed her the wrong way. I was standing next to an electric guitar ripping Rocker friend of mine. After this song he nodded his approval and said to me “She should do more hard songs like that.” So Sky wins over everyone; the neon nail polish, fashion magazine following young lady to my left and the AC/DC obsessed Rock ‘N Roll guy to my right. That in itself is certainly not an easy task. It may be why the venue is bursting with people.
All the music is sparkling, and Sky’s vocals are the glitter icing on the cake. She’s classically trained, so her whispers have a melodic rumble and her full-on singing soars with resonance. She doesn’t just stand still, but she’s also not wiggling and grinding all over the place, which is refreshing. The catchy, clever hooks combined with her presence are hypnotic. For someone still on the precipice between teenage youth and young adulthood, she easily sonically dominates over a hundred people years older and more experienced than her. The majority of the crowd was not chatting, texting or meandering around the club while she played. They were watching entranced, only rustling to hoist their phones or actual big-lens cameras into the air to take photos.
After a song ended and the crowd cheered and screamed, she seemed genuinely surprised by the loud reaction. She played it off well without sounding mean whenever this wasted dude repeatedly yelled “I love you Sky!” It looked like she was having fun. Throughout the night people had been calling out for “Everything Is Embarrassing”, the breakout single from her October 2012 EP release Ghost. You can join the hundreds of thousands who’ve seen the sleek black and white video on YouTube.
“Everything Is Embarrassing” is so mesmerizing you don’t want the song to end. Imagine early-eighties Madonna with a cooler voice sauntering and skipping over a bare-bones drum loop accented by reverb-drenched grand piano. It’s one of those songs that is perfect because it makes so much of so little. The spacing and timing of the arrangement is superb. Due credit should be given to Mr. Dev Hynes, also known as Blood Orange, who penned this modern classic.
Sky Ferreira will only go up from here. Here’s to hoping she stays true to herself musically. In her case this means making songs in many different (acoustic unplugged to synth-pop) styles, despite critics pointing this out as if it were a discrepancy in how to label her. My all-in bet is that she is about to become very famous, very fast. Here’s to also hoping she weathers that storm for the best and has fun with it.
However the future unfolds, it was too bad you couldn’t make it to “School Night!” at Bardot that cold Monday in November. If you’re into the wide-ranging genre of “New Cool Music” then check your local listings for when Sky might roll through you town. Regardless of the 2013 awards shows “Best New” recognition, all that really matters is the music is remarkably immaculate.
From “Lost In My Bedroom”; “So happy here – Everything is right – It’s crystal clear – Is this real?” As I breezed out through my fellow revelers into the desolate late-night Hollywood streets, the songs still dancing in my head, I was wondering the exact same thing.
*All song lyrics copyright 2012 Sky Ferreira.