Sky Ferreira - Webster Hall - 11/11/13
Better Than: Trying to figure out what's gonna be cool two years from now.
Photo: Jonah Bromwich
The crowd was split at Webster Hall last night, between the usual mob of NYU students taking up the front of the room and an inordinate number of yups--dutifully keeping track of what's hip, no doubt--holding position in the back. Both groups were there to see Sky Ferreira and each came away with vastly different opinions of the 21 year old singer after she struggled her way through a tough, strange, hour-long set.
Opening for Ferriera were the Smith-Westerns, a band that only two years ago occupied a vogue-ish space in alternative culture comparable to the act that they're currently on tour with. The Smith-Westerns at heart are pop-songwriters and they carried out their time onstage with a crisp sense of professionalism if not one of tremendous investment. They shine on their hookiest songs, powering through the glam-rock edge of their single "3 AM Spiritual" from the surprisingly strong 2013 album Soft Will and beefing up their set with some old favorites from Dye It Blonde. Songs like "End of the Night" and "Weekend" have aged well, though you wouldn't have known it from the (non)reaction of a disengaged crowd. The SW's lead singer Cullen Omori made reference to the lack of interest, after getting a wan response when he wondered aloud if the fans were enjoying themselves.
"Who's excited to see Sky tonight?" he asked, and the crowd was suddenly more than audible. "That's what I thought," he said, glancing towards his bandmates as if confirming a theory.
Fereirra has been cultivating the image of a bad girl recently, posing nude for the cover of her new album Night Time, My Time and getting caught, along with her boyfriend, with 42 decks of heroin after being pulled over in upstate New York. But her penchant for pleasant pop-rock gives her away as a sweetheart, and she seemed one last night, appearing for her set promptly, dressed in a demure, doll-like red and black plaid dress with makeup that appeared to have been done by the guy who put the powder on the Munsters. The effect was that of a slightly eerie-looking doll.
Ferreira was shy and giggly from the start, dropping her microphone twice during opening number, "Boys," and allowing the music to drown her out. She eventually gained some strength from the support of the more dedicated fans in front and ripped through standout tracks like "24 Hours and "I Blame Myself," overcoming occasional issues with timing. Her style live reminds you she's done a good amount of modeling in recent years--when she's not belting the hooks of her arena pop songs, she's mincing, striking poses, hands on hips.