Thursday night at the El Mocambo was Holly Miranda’s second visit to Toronto in the past 9 months and her first headlining show in support of her debut solo album “The Magicians Private Library”; and the young up and coming artist not disappoint.
Having it been my first time at the local iconic venue, which has hosted The Rolling Stones and Stevie Ray Vaughn, I was pleasantly surprised by it’s clean open space and good sight lines. My only gripe would have to be its muddy sound system that seemed be more of a problem for opening band, Braids. Luckily sound issues got sorted out by the time Holly Miranda was in to her second song.
Canadian act Braids seemed a good match to open for Miranda as their music has the same layered ethereal sounds and textures and haunting vocals. Although they played to quite an empty venue, those who gathered near the front of the stage were engaged–including Holly. And the band seemed unfazed by the small size of the crowd and content on playing their hearts out for whatever number of ears were in the building.
The audience had grown by the time Holly hit the stage at around 11, but the Elmo still wasn’t at what you would call full capacity. Regardless, her set was full of heart and passion, and that was evident in the way she sang her words and the way she closed her eyes as she lost herself in the music. Her songs were were sonically lush and thick in texture and reminiscent of a humid summers night, perfectly mirroring the weather that night, but there is something else in her music–a sort of wide-eyed wonder, if you will–that seems to be ingrained in the melodies. In-between songs, the man beside me turned to me and said, “I’ve never heard of her before, but she’s amazing!” The late-night concertgoers were clearly into the music as they swayed with the music, beer in hand. Highlights of Holly Miranda’s performance were “Waves,” her cover of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind,” and “Pelican Rapids”–her new song about how ‘everyone should be allowed to marry whoever the f–k they want’. If there’s one thing I was a bit disappointed in, it was the lack of banter; but then again, it’s really all about the music in the end, isn’t it? The girl was a sweetheart, the music was good, and it didn’t hurt that she was easy on the eyes as well.
Check out Holly’s previous musical outfit, The Jealous Girlfriends.