The Brooklyn-based electro-pop singer performed a setlist composed of exuberant, upbeat tracks on a sunny afternoon at Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s The Dime rooftop.
With a backdrop of Williamsburg, the neighborhood’s iconic bridge, the Lower East Side, and Manhattan skyline, musicians and music lovers sprawled out on the grass on the roof of The Dime, the new residence building on Saturday, August 14 to see four genre-bending musical performances and drink complimentary beer in the sunshine.
Sofar Sounds, the music events startup, and Stella Artois, the pilsner beer company continued their collaborative three-show outdoor concert series, ‘Solstice in the City’ with their second lineup on Saturday, including performances from Washington Heights’ Dembow, R&B, and techno artist Rubby, Venezuelan bandola llanera player Mafer Bandola, the electro-pop headliner and Brooklynite EVAN GIIA and a closing set from Brooklyn DJ duo, musclecars. Performances were held from 3 to 7 p.m. as guests were treated to complimentary Stella Artois Solstice Lager, the summer-inspired beer, fitting for the warm environment provided by the weather and music.
While preparing for her bright, energetic, and synth-heavy set, GIIA spoke to The Knockturnal from her apartment about her debut EP, Endorphins, the songs she was most excited to share with the audience, and the multifaceted meaning behind the title of her latest project.
“This is a big moment for me,” GIIA said with a smile. “This is my first EP ever. I’ve only released singles up until now, so this body of work is very special.” Endorphins, the six-track EP was released on August 6 via Astralwerks. While embarking on a national tour with the DJ and production duo Louis the Child, GIIA was able to play her new music to new audiences, finding that they were more than just receptive but enthusiastic upon hearing it. “We just played ten shows,” GIIA said. “I was able to test out the new music and everyone was loving it so I’m definitely playing my new stuff tonight, especially “By My Side” which is the new single off the EP, and “Feeling Better (Better)” which is one of my favorite ones and then some of the classics as well.”
EVAN GIIA before her headline set at Sofar Sounds x Stella Artois Solstice Lager’s ‘Solstice in the City’ at The Dime in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Photo by Christian Koerwer for Sofar Sounds
As for her favorite track to play live? GIIA pointed to “Feeling Better (Better),” an uplifting ballad-turned-dance anthem with personal, lyrical significance and dazzling backing synths. “It’s one of my favorite ones off Endorphins,” GIIA explained. “It’s about being in a toxic relationship, finally getting out and feeling better. It’s a very big energy release and it’s so fun to perform. I was really into the fitness industry before music and I always start making music with the idea that I want people to move and sweat to my music.”
This, she said, relates to the EP title and how it alludes to more than just the hormones themselves that humans experience, but also the various emotions that emphasize them and their power. “With my idea for the EP, I wanted to represent with each song a different way that I feel endorphins,” GIIA continued. “It’s not just from working out or sweating. It could also be from the giddy feeling when you first fall in love or listening to a really banging song while walking down the street in Brooklyn and feeling like ‘the shit.’ There are different types of endorphins and I think it was the number one word that I boiled down [when thinking about an album title]. The purpose and passion of my project is to spread the [warm feelings that come with] endorphins.”
EVAN GIIA performs a headline set at Sofar Sounds x Stella Artois Solstice Lager’s ‘Solstice in the City’ at The Dime in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Photo by Christian Koerwer for Sofar Sounds
As the ‘Solstice in the City’ event began, Rubby was the first to take the rooftop stage, crooning a set of smooth R&B tracks and soulful melodies made possible by velvety, lush tenor vocals and sensuous beats. With bilingual lyrics in both English and Spanish and ornate backing synths, he opened the afternoon as concertgoers began to sit on spread-out picnic blankets or at seats by the bar.
Rubby performs at Sofar Sounds x Stella Artois Solstice Lager’s ‘Solstice in the City’ at The Dime in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Photo by Christian Koerwer for Sofar Sounds
María Fernanda González (who performs under the name Mafer Bandola) followed with a set of intricate bandola instrumentals and impassioned vocals that paid homage to her native Venezuela. Bandola proclaimed to the audience that she is the first woman to play the electric version of the pear-shape, Venezuelan chordophone professionally and one of the few women in not only Venezeula to play it, but also the globe. Equipped with a bandola, backing guitar, eloquent Spanish lyrics filled with imagery and spirited vocals, the multi-instrumentalist got her audience to sway, clap and sing along throughout her set.
Mafer Bandola performs at Sofar Sounds x Stella Artois Solstice Lager’s ‘Solstice in the City.’ Photo by Marissa Matozzo
After Bandola departed from the stage, the event emcee, Grace Pozniak welcomed GIIA, the ‘Solstice in the City’ headliner to applause and cheers. With a combined setlist of past hits (including 2017’s groovy, slowed single “Absolute Zero”) and Endorphins tracks such as “Mood Swings,” GIIA danced and glided across the stage, donning a summery all-white outfit from head-to-toe.
EVAN GIIA performs at Sofar Sounds x Stella Artois Solstice Lager’s ‘Solstice in the City.’ Photos by Marissa Matozzo
Before performing “For Aisha,” her collaborative track with MEMBA and Nooran Sisters, the Williamsburg-based musician explained to the audience that the song, which features Southeast Asian instrumentals and vocalizations, was in the closing credits of The Sky is Pink, the 2019 Indian Hindi-language, biographical comedy-drama film starring Priyanka Chopra.
GIIA then closed with a vigorous rendition of “WESTWORLD,” her popular and infectious 2018 hit that has since garnered over 24 million Spotify streams.
After GIIA’s set, the event closed with the help of Brandon Weems and Craig Handfield, the Brooklyn-based DJ duo known as musclecars who honored New York City’s dance scene, both past and present with a mix of rhythms and beats as the last act of the evening.
GIIA is currently on tour with Louis the Child and will hit venues across the Midwest, Pacific Northwest and will return to Brooklyn on November 19 at Elsewhere in Bushwick.
The next ‘Solstice in the City’ show will be headlined by Elena Rose at a secret location in Miami. For more information, head to the event website.