Flocks of leather jacket-clad twenty-somethings shuffled through the dim narrow corridor of Terminal 5 Thursday, Oct. 15 for the luminescent lullabies and dance beat ballads by Glass Animals and Empress Of. Fans donning zebra masks and those carrying pineapples (a Glass Animals emblem) all found their silhouettes shrouded in a hazy green light, with tropical flora caressing their shoulders as they trudged toward the music. Ticket stubs in hand they made their way to the high ceilinged gymnasium style venue, as a politely prompt Empress Of began trilling her gentle, innocent vocals right at 8:00 pm.
Though Empress Of, known off stage as Lorely Rodriguez, performs as a solo act, she was accompanied on stage by a keyboardist and live drummer. She stood close to the front of the stage with untamable confidence, her wild mane of curly hair giving her a distinct and eye-catching profile as she thrashed her head to the beat, corkscrew ends illuminated by vibrant hazy hues of purple, red and blue. After her first song, Rodriguez thanked the crowd with a breathy, unexpectedly sheepish “I’m so excited to be opening for Glass Animals.” Her soft tone between songs painted a distinct contrast to her bold presence while performing.
During her second song, “Everything is You,” the first track off her debut album Me, Rodriquez’s fluttery vocals delicately flickered as the audience swayed, processing the powerful bass beat tickling their leg hairs. With her left arm completely outstretched to the side with mic in other hand, Rodriguez created a prophetic presence, repeatedly singing the existential line “You are everything, everything is you.”
Next came “Need Myself,” a song describing an inherent need for independence. The lines “I think I’m the one I need” and “Just need myself/To love myself” were paired with a fierce sequence of rib cage-rattling bass. It got the heart pumping while the words invoked a more acute awareness of the metaphysical heart and the need for self-love. Distinctive beams of white light cascaded down upon the stage, illuminating Rodriguez at varying intervals, accentuating her singularity and independence as a performer.
Throughout her set, Rodriguez emitted an undeniable honesty and sincerity with her songs. She stood before fans as a young passionate artist, with a great deal of emotional prowess from which to pull inspiration for her music. There were times when she almost appeared to get lost in the throes of her own sentiments, head banging to the beat, yet still singing flawlessly. Her voice carried through the room, taking a willing audience along for the spirited journey.
Glass Animals followed, steeped heavily in fog, busting onto the scene with “Walla Walla,” which opens with a powerful and distinctive tribal drum beat before the bass adds to the heavy tone of the song. The incongruity of the convoluted lyrics add a fascinating contrast to the crisp, concrete beat. Lines like “Wiggle toes on wicker braids/Hanging with their nails so frayed/Mini fruits all bone dry/And a cape, black tie-dyed,” leave their meaning completely up to the listener’s interpretation.
“Hazy” offered a more nuanced beat riddled with subtle effects incorporating what sounded like a collection of snaps, rattling bones and exaggerated rain drops. Lead singer David Bayley, equipped with a tambourine, bounded around the stage in an explosion of animated energy. The crowd sang along to the chorus, providing additional background effects for fellow band mates Drew MacFarlane (guitar/keyboard), Edmund Irwin-Singer (bass/keyboard) and Joe Seaward (drums) to feed off.
The audience cheered wildly when crowd favorite “Gooey” oozed from the loudspeakers as gentle xylophone pirouetted with Bayley’s velvety vocals. After a few measures of vocals and percussion conducted their delicate dance, the bouncy drum beat pounced and the sea of humans in front of the stage erupted into motion. One gentleman sporting a white Hawaiian-style shirt dotted in small pineapples smiled sweetly to his lady as he impressively mouthed the lines of nonsensical lyrics.
Many other couples were too busy intimately enjoying the inner workings of each others mouths to sing along. For those still observing the stage, several large incandescent bulbs with what looked like satellite dishes ensconcing each, stood erect around the perimeter of the stage. Each time Bayley recited the words “peanut butter vibes,” the bulbs splashed a golden luminescence across every surface of the room. While visually encapsulating, the musicality of the live performance accurately captured the magic Glass Animals offers with their debut album Zaba.
The English indie group ended the evening with “Pools,” which renders moments of clarity with more direct language. The distinct possibility that it might be a love song was supported by the lines, “We sip the wind through lips of dust/And out it comes, warm wisps of love.” Bayley delighted observers during the energetic song by tossing a whole pineapple off stage, in an act of love and solidarity for all of his pineapple-brandishing fans. The playful gesture concluded the show with a warmth and satisfaction as audience members bonded over the sight of an airborne pineapple.