Sky Ferreira at the El Rey Theatre, October 27, 2013 - Live Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Sky Ferreira

Sky Ferreira at the El Rey Theatre, October 27, 2013,

Oct 30, 2013 Sky Ferreira
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“Don’t let me die, don’t let me die, don’t let me die,” Sky Ferreira joked nervously during her headlining show at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday night. The singer, celebrating the release of her long-delayed debut LP, Night Time, My Time, had knocked over her tea and water while interacting with the fans up front during “24 Hours,” the song on her album with the catchiest hook. Ferreira, still relatively new to performing livethe 21-year-old made her debut at L.A.‘s Bootleg bar 14 months agobegan to dwell on the possibility of being electrocuted by the combination of liquid and stage gear. “That would be really sad, because literally this has taken five years to come out,” she said of her album, while doing her own mop-up duty. “And two days before it comes out, I drop dead. I die in front of everyone. Not ideal.”

It’s understandable for Ferreira to be taking extra precautions. Not only has the completion of her first album been a years-long process, but there have been other difficulties leading up to its release. The El Rey show originally had been scheduled for September 29, but a vocal cord nodule caused her to postpone it as well as cancel October supporting dates with Vampire Weekend. This, arriving on the heels of her drug possession arrest in September, perhaps instilled a sense of paranoia that anything at any moment could jeopardize the impending triumph of getting Night Time, My Time out in the world.

The show probably didn’t go the way Ferreira envisioned it. Between songs, she was upbeat and chatty with fans but still came off as anxious. After the end of the main set, she shared a barely coherent anecdote about Jon Brion and, before leaving the stage, unintentionally banged her forehead against the mic in front of her. When she returned, she continued to lose composure. Lou Reed had died that day, and perhaps in honor of him, Ferreira wore sunglasses through much of the set. To start the encore, she sang The Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning.” Her vocals seemed unsure and astray until it became apparent that she was crying behind her shades, so much so that she began to wipe away tears with her mic still in hand. “Sorry, Lou Reed, that sucked,” she said with a self-conscious laugh after the song ended.

Onstage tears are nothing new for Ferreira. She’s talked about becoming emotional while performing, but this must have been a bittersweet night for her, realizing her dream in front of a near sold-out crowd but perhaps not under the best circumstances. She might not be fully recovered vocally, and some nagging clouds continue to hover. Fans were having trouble getting answers about when physical copies of Night Time, My Time would become available. Judging from a post on Ferreira’s Facebook page that was removed later, she might have been hoping to have vinyl copies of the album available at the El Rey show. While that wasn’t explicitly clear in her post, she was unmistakably miffed that her label wouldn’t have vinyl “made in time for the album release.” Digital copies, however, did indeed go on sale Tuesday, and as a token of good will, fans at the show were given free codes to download the entire album. Ferreira also appeared at the merch counter after the show to chat, sign autographs, and take photos with fans, but that too was mismanaged, with those at the front of the line getting quality time with the singer, but the ones who waited most patiently being rushed along as El Rey management grew increasingly antsy about closing up for the night. Still, it’s an encouraging sign to see Ferreira connecting with her fans, some of who were lined up for the show by noon. Such efforts might not be what you’d expect from someone who also has a successful modeling career, whose image towered over the Sunset Strip last spring in the form of a building-sized Forever 21 billboard.

As a singer, Ferreira was appearing on magazine covers in early 2011. Vs, one of those mags, referred to her “highly-anticipated debut album” even back then. Her 2010 singles “One” and “Obsession” made small waves on the UK pop and U.S. dance charts, respectively, but an LP failed to materialize in 2011. The “Background” section of Night Time, My Time‘s Wikipedia page consists of a dizzying list of scrapped plans. In recent interviews, she’s talked about her fight to record a collection of songs that she’s proud of, parting ways with producers and abandoning numerous recordings in the process. She regained momentum in the fall of 2012 with the endearing “Everything Is Embarrassing,” a soulful, minimal electro-pop track for which she shared writing credits with Ariel Rechtshaid (Vampire Weekend, HAIM, Charli XCX) and Devonté Hynes (aka Lightspeed Champion and Blood Orange). Still, with Rechtshaid and Justin Raisen producing her LP, it would take another year to be completed.

In an admirably bold move, Ferreira didn’t include “Everything Is Embarrassing” on Night Time, My Time. By contrast, this year’s critically acclaimed debut LPs from Charli XCX, CHVRCHES, and HAIM were stacked with previously released tracks. Ferreira also performed her entire album at the El Rey, one-upping HAIM, who bypassed their newest material at the Fonda 11 days earlier. One of the striking aspects of Ferreira’s return to Bootleg this past April, in the wake of the warm reception to “Everything Is Embarrassing,” was that she came off more as a rocker than a pop singer. That seemed even more evident at the El Rey, her appearing with her hair slicked back, donning a leather jacket and shades, strobe lights flashing and stage smog billowing behind her. During the more insistent, fuzzed-out songs“Ain’t Your Right,” “Kristine”she recalled some of Reed’s descendants, such as The Jesus and Mary Chain and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. On record, Shirley Manson seems like an aesthetically kindred spirit, someone who projects the dark streak and attitude of the aforementioned bands but also has a wider emotional palette vocally. Ferreira and Manson collaborated on the track “Red Lips” from Ferreira’s Ghost EP released last year.

Backed by a four-piece band, Ferreira looked confident early in the show, and that likely had to do with her performing the album in order. Night Time, My Time‘s first five tracks are its most assertive. They’re also the most candid. “Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay)” was riveting, Ferreira purging her anger while stalking the stage and staring us down. The songs feel personal, and in light of this week’s revealing New York magazine profile on Ferreira, the references to a siren in “Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay)” and being a 10-year-old without a voice in “I Blame Myself” spark further interpretations. Lyrically, some of the songs could have used some polishing. “I Blame Myself” relies heavily on the word “blame” and follows a great couplet“How could you know what it feels like to fight the hounds of hell/You think you know me so well”with no rhyme of any kind for “I blame myself for my reputation.” Still, there are other standout lines elsewhere. On “Ain’t Your Right,” Ferreira coolly takes control of the situation, stating, “You want to sleep it over/We’ll see about that, won’t we?” and “I’ll let you slide this one time.” It remains to be seen whether the heavier, middle-album tracks such as “Omanko” (a head-scratcher), “Heavy Metal Heart” and “Kristine” will resonate long-term. Regardless, the key is for Ferreira to continue to fight for material she believes in, and hopefully, the powers that be will begin to listen to the young woman. Either that or she should go indie and fund her music with modeling money.

After her rendition of “Sunday Morning,” Ferreira remained flustered, and she began to fumble the lyrics to “Everything Is Embarrassing.” She decided to play it again, stating that “Sunday Morning” had left her in the wrong headspace the first time. The second rendition ended with her taking a seat at the front of the stage to get up close and personal with the crowd. She commented on the sensation of having lots of warm hands on her. “Lost in My Bedroom,” from the Ghost EP, had been setlisted, but she skipped it. The show concluded with her singing “One” to a pre-recorded track. Ferreira said that the last time she performed it was five years ago in Mexico. Probably not accurate, since it was a 2010 single. And there is a YouTube video of a Mexico performance, seemingly from 2011. In any case, “One” was a surprise, not only a fun, lighthearted way to conclude a rollercoaster show, but further evidence of how confident Ferreira is in her new material. When you feel this good about an album, there’s no need to sweep your older songs under the rug as if they never existed. They’re part of the journey.



Ain’t Your Right

24 Hours

Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay)

I Blame Myself


You’re Not the One

Heavy Metal Heart


I Will

Love in Stereo

Night Time, My Time


Sunday Morning

Everything Is Embarrassing



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