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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Last Night: Torres Purify the Bottom of the Hill

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2015 at 10:43 AM

click to enlarge torres-001.jpg
Aero Flynn
Cave Clove
Bottom of the Hill
May 13, 2015

Better than
: Getting roped into talking about '90s ska bands with your Lyft driver.

“If you never know the darkness / then you’re the one who fears the most,” Mackenzie Scott, the creative force behind Torres sings, becoming white-knuckled while onstage, a near supernatural representation of her 24-year-old self that could seem like a caricature for a more calculating, older performer. Instead, musical ingenuity and a ravaged coming-of-age narrative converge for a very genuine, and very heavy live show.

Torres has a similar energy to 2013’s break-out London band, Savages. Every facial twitch, quick smile, grimace, is deliberate but also natural. It’s an addicting downward spiral into the uncertainties of loneliness. Gritty joy is intertwined with pain, like in “Ferris Wheel”: “I talk about you like you’re mine / My friends just laugh and roll their eyes / What till I tell them I don’t mind the way it feels to ride an empty Ferris Wheel.”

She’s penned one of the best albums of 2015, and no, that’s not a blithe generalization. Sprinter was inspired by Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing, given to Scott as a 23rd birthday gift from Sharon Van Etten to help crush writer’s block. This let loose the single “Strange Hellos,” a loud-quiet-loud grunge anthem a la PJ Harvey: “What’s mine isn’t really yours, but I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

For the first five minutes of Torres’ set, droning atmospheric beats pique the audience’s attention – the band is nowhere to be seen. Then the four-piece appear, with Scott producing a lighter and sage, lighting up and purifying Bottom of the Hill before saying a word.

“The last time I was here someone lit up in the crowd and I was amazed that could happen. This time I’d like the same thing to happen: 1) because I’d like to relive that experience and 2) so that it can be passed up to me.” But the crowd is mostly in their late-20s and 30s, and too reserved to rush to the stage to throw joints at her like roses.

Eventually, in between set and encore, she gets her wish. “Did you see me just smoke weed? This has never happened before. I have nothing prepared.” We’re unsure if she’s serious, mainly because encores have become a ubiquitous part of headlining performances, and she’s too good for us to be the first ones to break that first. Alone now, she plays “Ferris Wheel,” a sparse ballad on unrequited love: “There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do to show you that I’ve got the sadness too.”

We needed a bucket of bourbon after that one. 
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Valerie Veteto


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