RECOMMENDATION: BRIANA MARELA
I rarely arrive at a gig in time to see the beginning notes of a support band's set. I occasionally arrive half way through, but sometimes I miss it completely. I've never been to a live show and seen a support artist that particularly impressed me, you see. On Sunday, though, I did. Her name was Briana Marela.
Thankfully on this occasion I turn up early, and Marela - from her home state of Washington - walks on stage with little to no fanfare or introduction. She readies herself by the microphone, audio equipment and a Macbook computer. I'm not sure what I'm expecting, but while the rest of the audience continue to talk amongst themselves, my eyes are fixed squarely on Marela herself. She moves towards the microphone and lets out a haunting 'hmmmmmmm' sound, and steps back. The sound repeats itself, but this time she isn't singing into the microphone, and it becomes apparent that she will be using some form of vocal loops and samples, in this song at least. Marela sings several more different sounds into the microphone, each time putting one on top of the other to form a tapestry of looped music. No one is talking anymore.
From that point on there was silence throughout Marela's entire set. She has created a sound that combines her distinct and bold melodies with dreamy lyrics and both original and clever use of vocal loops, processes and samples. I certainly had never seen anything quite like it, and judging by the look of amazement on many of my fellow music lovers faces, neither had they. Two things in particular stood out for me, though.
The first, was just the sense of admiration I felt towards her. It would be very easy to take shortcuts when recreating her songs live, and perhaps only performing half of the vocal loops she ended up singing. For some this would have sufficed I'm sure, but not Marela; she performed every single one.
What also stood out for me - while also really surprising me - was the fact that Marela's act never got boring. With the exception of sporadic tambourine use, it was just Marela's voice and vocal loops up there with her the whole time. It could easily have become repetitive or boring, but it is a testament to her charisma and song writing ability that it didn't. At one stage a girl next me actually lost her balance she was so transfixed by Marela, and it wasn't just because she was pissed.
It was incredibly refreshing to see something genuinely different and new on stage. I'd encourage you all to look Marela up - in particular her live performances - and then go and buy her album. Original, individual artists such as her need to be given all the help they can, and I hope this post creates just one new fan of hers. She certainly created this one.