Show Review: Sad13 @ Middle East Upstairs 12.14.16

by Alex Wetzel (Business Administration), published February 8th 2017

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To conclude their first ever tour, Sad13 (the solo project of Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis) played Upstairs at the Middle East, which Sadie pointed out happened to be the same stage Speedy Ortiz played on their first headlining gig in Boston.

Kicking off the show was a solo set from Told Slant who joined the tour for its final five days. Typically behind the drums, Felix Walworth instead played guitar, splitting the set evenly between songs off of 2012’s Still Water and this summer’s Going By. Though a soft and emotional performance, they still managed to get the crowd to join in singing.

Walworth then took their normal place at drums to play with Emily Reo during her set. Backed by clips of black and white footage, her performance was dark and spacey. It was filled with powerful synths and a number of vocal effects throughout, however elements of synth pop and dance were still sprinkled in. The set closed on the six-and-a-half minute “Spell,” a track that is mostly Emily’s voice, which slowly builds into heavy vocal layering and rhythm.

From the synth heavy music of Emily Reo, the night transitioned back into another solo guitar act, with New York based singer-songwriter Vagabon. As she took the stage, she politely asked people to quiet down (which only partially worked), however the moment she began to sing the room fell to complete silence. Though she only played a brief five songs, her beautiful songs and powerful voice completely captivated the crowd.

In support of her recently released debut Slugger LP, Sadie appeared on stage for the tours final night backed with a full band. On Slugger, Sad13 sings about sexism, abuse and consent to highlight a few, creating an album of pop songs with a strong positive message. And while the message was clearly still there during Sad13’s performance, it took a more punky spirit, not too far from the sound of Speedy Ortiz. They opened the set with the album opener “<2” and followed that up playing much of the new record. Sad13 was louder and punchier than on Slugger, but the synth was still present, especially during “Get a Yes,” one of the poppiest songs on the album. Sad13 closed out the show with “Hype,” an upbeat but in-your-face track, and the perfect way to close the set, the night, and the first Sad13 tour.

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