One song into her performance at the Larimer Lounge on Wednesday night, someone in the crowd asked Sky Ferreira if her and her four-man backing band had visited Denver’s famous Casa Bonita. They had.
“That shit was weird,” she laughed. “I didn’t get to jump in the lake. But we did go into the cave.”
The stage had emptied out behind her, except for her guitarist. He tickled out a few bars from “Sad Dream,” she closed her eyes and got a few lines in before cracking up: “Can we start over? I can’t stop picturing that place now.”
For a newly-minted alt idol who puts forth a few different faces on the 2012 EP “Ghost,” the 20-year-old Ferreira couldn’t contain her humanity here. Chalk it up to the peculiar makeup of Wednesday’s young crowd. Many in the welcoming audience had come for the homecoming of her tour partner, How To Dress Well.
Skilled in manipulating both synths and vocals, the 27-year-old Tom Krell of How To Dress Well grew up in Denver. Speaking to Complex late last year, he described the state as “beautiful” but “pretty boring.” He left for Boston College and is currently working toward a PhD in philosophy in Cologne, Germany. It was during this latter period that he began releasing experimental electronica under his current moniker. As a creative resident of Denver, it’s a little disappointing to think that the city still struggles to appeal to such strange and beautiful outliers on the broader talent spectrum. Krell is certainly just that, blessed with a perfect falsetto and an avid interest in experimentation.
This combination could be seen in the way he wielded dual microphone stands to recreate the ghostly vocal reverberations of his records, leaning in to whisper, mumble or belt his lyrics.
As an artist who has expressed appreciation for anonymity, Krell’s disarming stage chatter suggested he was making an exception this evening. Despite being rattled by a bit of side-stage heckling, he mostly maintained his gravitas. He closed with “Set It Right,” the intensely somber anthem in which he expresses sadness over the departure of important figures from his life. Undoubtedly, a few or more of those were in the audience.
Backed by two full-lengths, Krell’s performance had more emotional heft than Ferreira’s. Her set was well-received nonetheless. She’s found a timeless hit in her runaway single “Everything is Embarrassing,” which was delivered at the end of a carousel set of glam rock and dance songs, along with a few peculiar country odes. These came off a little flat unfortunately, with the exception of “Red Lips,” a snarling rock song that complements Ferreira’s heroin-chic style more so than the others.
Electronic blogger Erik Myers is a Denver-based writer and new contributor to Reverb. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter.
Vy Pham is a Denver photographer and a new contributor to Reverb.