Live Review: How to Dress Well w/ Sky Ferreira & High Highs @ Barboza 4/6/13

all photos by Brittany Brassell

Saturday night, 12 bucks (a cheap cover at nearby clubs) bought you a night of chilled out, near-perfect indie pop bliss. Though How To Dress Well just swung through town a couple months ago, they returned with friends – namely, rising indie pop icon Sky Ferreira and Australian psych-pop band High Highs. The three gave the audience very little to complain about Saturday night, save for those stuck outside the door of this sold out event. Each one a musical compliment to the next, High Highs, How to Dress Well, and Sky Ferreira may be the best bill Barboza has seen in 2013 so far.

High Highs are coming off the release of great new record Open Season and stateside to show it off. The band’s style is really refreshing, mixing the post-rock vibe of bands like Tycho and the Album Leaf with the psych pop songwriting prowess of MGMT. The resulting product is a chilled out groove with an emotionally powerful tug. High Highs sounded excellent live and found a few new fans wandering up to the merch booth after the show. They totally deserve it, too – as Tom Krell of How to Dress Well entered the stage later in the night, he raved about how High Highs were “the nicest, most sincere people in the world”. But High Highs are more than just nice guys – they took their short window of stage time and made it count with a memorable set that the crowd warmed up for the next round of entertainment.

High Highs:

Tom Krell will blow your mind every time you see him live. On the record, How To Dress Well is his soft-spoken minimalist R&B diary of the hardships of life, dealing with death on a personal basis and learning to love, slowly but surely, as all of us do. All of the above holds true in Krell’s live setup, but what will, guaranteed, exceed your expectations are Krell’s perfect vocals. Listeners might scoff at that cooing falsetto on the record, chalking it up to production tricks and countless layered tracks, but what you hear on the record is all Tom, and he proves it live. Alternating between a dry mic and one drenched with reverberating echo, Krell creates a spacious vocal experience that seems impossible for just one dude. But as his beats pound on, Krell only gets more impressive. During his set, he played his critically acclaimed new LP Total Loss almost in full, along with “Suicide Dream 1″ from Love Remains. He also blew the crowd away with a new medley tune, half Krell’s own, and half a very danceable cover R. Kelly’s “I Wish”. How To Dress Well are a live must-see, and they proved that here once again at Barboza.

How To Dress Well:

The beautiful Sky Ferreira has received her fair share of hype in the last half year or so, starting with a captivating CMJ performance last October, followed by the release of her excellent EP Ghost, and the present excitement surrounding delayed debut LP I’m Not Alright. Despite her powerful vocals and spartan stage presence, Ferreira was a bit shy, sticking to the vocals and keeping crowd interaction to a minimum. Her onstage character is effective, though – amidst melancholy lyrics and soft melodies, she alternates between cold stares and downturned gazes, like she’s living and relating to the songs she’s penned. But closing out her set with instant classic “Everything’s Embarrassing“, she broke character just a bit, peering around the room and giving quick smiles to those singing along. With a diverse range of musical styles and her post-Internet child of the 90’s presence, Sky’s show was a delight. Playing the whole of Ghost and dropping quite a few new tunes (here’s hoping the excellent “You’re Not The One” appears on I’m Not Alright!), Ferreira wowed the crowd off their feet and ended the night with a bang.

Sky Ferreira:

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