By Eva Lynch
The opener for the night was Joy Again, an indie-rock band from Phillidelphia who has been on tour with Snail Mail for part of their North American leg of the tour, before they plan on splitting off and heading to the West Coast for their own tour.
In person, their tracks are a lot more raw and rock-fueled than the gentle quality of their indie pop recordings, bringing new life to their discography. Members of the band alternated vocals between two frontmen, Sachi DiSerafino and Arthur Shea who took turns leading each song, their voices reminiscent of a young Neutral Milk Hotel.
The songs were interspersed with personal anecdotes that inspired the songs. They also took this moment between songs to play some jazz, which transformed into the intro of some of their songs showing the real instrumental control possessed by the band. They played several songs from their earlier EPs such as “Looking Out For You” and “Winter Snakes”, which have gained popularity again with its use on popular social media platforms such as Tik Tok. For their final song, they played “Winter Snakes”, which they extended the final section of as they built it up by having every member play as hard as possible in front of the strobing lights, and then taking it back to almost a soft lullaby as they faded out of their set and the lights turned off one by one until only one spotlight was left, illuminating the band from behind the drum kit.
After Joy Again was Snail Mail from Maryland, which is a solo project of guitarist and lead-singer, Lindsay Jordan. Fun fact, Jordan started the band when she was only 15! Snail Mail adorned the stage with a large red backdrop and several white cherub statues scattered across the stage, with vines that descend the cherub’s pillars and wound up the microphone stand.
One of the greatest pleasures of being a long time Snail Mail fan is getting to witness the growth and evolution of not just the band, but the vocals, and transparency of Snail Mail as an artist. Lead singer Lindsay Jordan’s voice has maintained that same raspy quality that she’s known for, in a classically queer indie-pop way which sounds a little similar to King Princess, but her voice has only gotten richer as she’s unlocked more range and control over time. She performed songs off her first EP from 2016, such as Thinning, and more than any other song, it showed how strong her voice has become as she’s developed it over the past 6 years compared to the young voice that first recorded it. The music itself also showcases growing vulnerability and openness in both the lyrics and entire musical production, discussing everything that Jordan has navigated growing up in the indie spotlight after being discovered at such a formative age.
On stage she jokes that apparently she wasn’t naturally meant to have a smoker’s voice at the age of 14, and reveals that she’s in recovery from a vocal surgery after waking up one day no longer able to speak. Despite still being in speech therapy and recently undergoing such an intensive operation, her voice was mostly unwavering. As a side effect of the surgery however, Jordan has unlocked a whole new range and experimented doing a few songs in a higher key which both gave them some new life and rearranged them to still fit her voice. It was great to see a new take on the songs, and her vocal range was particularly showcased by the songs she performed acoustically, including her hit ballad Mia.
Especially since she’s been touring non-stop since being signed, Jordan has incredible stage presence, and immediately comes across as charismatic and confident, seemingly really enjoying being able to share her music with the crowd. For one of the last songs of the night, they pulled out a cover of Tonight Tonight by the Smashing Pumpkins and really let loose — Jordan hopping on the floor with guitarist Ben Kaunitz as they played the guitar riffs to each other. While there are really three main guitarists/bassists in the band, everyone is constantly playing and switching guitars — even keyboardist Madeline McCormack kept switching between guitars and keys, and they had a member of their team running in every few songs to swap them out for everyone. It showed what a production their music is and how specifically crafted the sound is for each song, particularly within the string section, when changing out so many guitars to produce just the right sound and the effort it takes to develop and experiment with one’s sound.