LIGHTS @ The Middle East Upstairs 7.31.10
by Chris Stoppiello (English), published August 5th 2010
photos by Alyssa Mastrocco (English)
I arrived at the Middle East promptly at 7pm, per the instructions on the website, and was a little surprised by the type of fan that showed up for this sold out show. Call me prejudiced but I didn’t expect the crowd to be predominantly men at this intimate LIGHTS performance. Anyone familiar with the Canadian singer/songwriter probably knows her for her production-based synthpop similar to Owl City (with whom she toured earlier this year). This show was about a different side of LIGHTS.
LIGHTS, Lights Poxleitner, is playing only 6 dates in support of her new acoustic EP simply titled ‘Acoustic’. She does a good job translating the music into an acoustic style for the recordings. At times it’s hard to believe that these songs were not composed this way. It isn’t just straight strumming of the chords like one might expect, the guitar parts are varied enough to remain interesting.
The downside of the EP is the other instrument: her voice. The vocal track is mixed the same as it would be on her synthpop albums. You almost expect to hear a little auto-tune or a vocoder. If that juxtaposition was intentional I might be able to appreciate it, but the vocals are so out in front that it takes away from the wonderful guitar work.
The live show itself was much better. The young singer took the stage with just her guitar and her voice and the two were in better harmony on stage. Her raw voice is much nicer to listen to than the diabetes inducing sweetness it has on the album. During certain songs she really belted it out with power as well as accuracy. LIGHTS really can sing, but you wouldn’t expect it from her overproduced studio albums.
After the second song LIGHTS commented on how she thought she played it too fast but really enjoyed the freedom of not playing with a band. The crowd felt she played the song perfectly as she switched to piano for a bit. Small venues like the Middle East Upstairs are perfect locations for this tour. LIGHTS earnestly engaged the audience, inviting them to sing along and responding to one young man who didn’t recognize a song. It was a welcoming concert experience, and LIGHTS would be better off doing a live recording next time.