From Angel Olsen to Solange, the words, sounds, and themes from women in music this year were immensely vulnerable, politically-conscious, and pave the way for musicians of the approaching 2020s to experiment further.
Take all my defenses in two words
And throw them away
Tell me, what kind of monster
Have I been today?
Openly crying in New York is a rite of passage, somewhere in between dropping your laundry and having something bike messengered to your office. It’s so distinctly NYC; something that every woman here can relate to. It’s more New York than pretzels, taxis, and accents.
In some way, when you’re in New York there is no such thing as privacy anymore. We give up our right, and our rent, to live in constant communication. We see people whether we want to or not. Because of that we’re constantly showing our emotional state to strangers. Including on the train, with our tears and fears, whether we want to or not.
But you smile and call me “tough guy”
To the opposite effect
It’s a flower in the gun
And your tough guy’s a wreck
The day that Chairlift played their Sunday evening show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, a show that sold out in less than a day, I was a bit of mess. I was feeling behind in life and stressed in my relationships. Suffice it to say that I was like a game of Jenga: choose the wrong piece at the wrong time, and I might fall over. I thought “Crying in Public” might do it; might set me up for the tumble.
It was as quiet as New York on Sunday can get. There was no one on the Williamsburg streets; the train eerily empty; most people sauntering solo instead of in pairs; the air trapped somewhere between winter and spring, not quite ready to fall either way and make the choice.
And I’m blaming all beauty upon you
From the birds at my feet
To the breakdancing boys
And their boomboxes’ beat, beat, beat
Olga Bell set us up, a one woman soundscape artist with sounds so intricate that I was surprised to only see one person on stage. It was laughably fun, and her music will most certainly make the club rounds.
Chairlift creates a vibrant, new, and distinct environment when performing. It is a dynamic experience. I thought I was fan before I entered the Music Hall, and I left an even bigger one. Charilift’s songs have new life in person, just like a moth, morphing into something else again.
Caroline Polachek, already haunting and mesmerizing in recorded form, is stunning and arresting in person. And while her outfit certainly helped to make her unforgettable (tonight she donned red pants with a flowing white top), it’s her vocals, the clear intentionality of each selected sound, that elevates the experience. Every moment, every breath and every syllable has a reason for being there.
“Crying In Public” was no exception. I thought I might be ready. I was prompted after all and I knew it was coming: “This is a song about New York.” When Caroline said, “can we get a sway going?”, I accidentally heard “can I get a cry going?”
Sorry I’m crying in public this way
I’m falling for you, I’m falling for you
I’m sorry I’m causing a scene on the train
I’m falling for you, I’m falling for you
The beauty of seeing Chairlift in person is that you will leave stronger and different than you came in. You will harbor the energy and the positivity thrown off that stage synced with the strobe light. You will internalize it, and you will leave better than you came in.
Together, we swayed and sang to “Crying in Public.” We watched as the duo, Caroline and Adam, touched hands during the song, somehow simultaneously heightening the emotion and creating an anchor in case we had floated away. And suddenly, without warning or meditation, my list came: I had survived New York. I have survived crying on the train. I have survived exhaustion and turmoil.
And I left Williamsburg stronger.
At the end of the show, I went onward into the quiet night, with newfound energy and grace. And I knew others had it to. Lifted. Rejuvenated. Balanced. Breathing.
Love will be the bridge
Over the sand
Love will be the key
From hand to hand