Mazzy Star at the Ogden Theatre, 11-10-13 (review)By Candace Horgan | November 11th, 2013 | 3 comments
For 75 minutes Sunday night, I was in heaven. A show that I never thought I would have the privilege of hearing magically came together, and it was the show of my dreams. Alt-indie darlings Mazzy Star, who hadn’t toured in the U.S. since 1996, and, before a show at Coachella in 2012 hadn’t performed anywhere since 2000, played a spellbinding show at the Ogden Theatre.
It’s hard to describe a Mazzy Star show. Ethereal is one word that comes to mind. Haunting, beautiful, dark and mesmerizing are other adjectives that can be used. Singer Hope Sandoval probably has a lot of influence on the stage presentation of the band, as, much like Sandoval’s solo show at the Bluebird in 2009, Mazzy performed in near darkness, with a low-fi video background adding an ambient feel.
Each of the six members had a lit candle somewhere near their rig. In between songs, rather than talk to the audience, weird spacey sounds that were vaguely reminiscent of Pink Floyd at times played through the theater. Performing this way seems to make the music stand out more, as there are no flashy light shows to distract from the music.
Indeed, the band is probably very conscious about its stage presentation and what can distract from it. On the way into the Ogden, security loudly warned that there was no photography, including cell phones, and flyers were posted all over the walls reminding the audience not to use their phones to take photos or they would be escorted out. It was refreshing to look out on the audience and not see the bright glare of cell phones everywhere.
Though Mazzy Star released its fourth studio album in September 2013, they didn’t overplay songs from that album in their set. Indeed, the short-ish set was well balanced from among the group’s four albums. They opened with “Look on Down from the Bridge,” an alt-country tune from their third album, “Among My Swan,” on which Josh Yenne’s weepy pedal steel conveyed a weariness and aching sadness that meshed perfectly with Sandoval’s dreamy vocals.
It says something about how captivating Mazzy Star is that Roback can eschew piezo pickups when playing acoustic guitar and simply play into a microphone. As good as acoustic guitar pickups have become in the last decade, they still can’t match the warmth and tone of an acoustic guitar played into a microphone. On “Does Someone Have Your Baby Now,” Roback’s acoustic slide playing echoed with rawness and authenticity.
One of the highlights of the night was the performance of “Into Dust,” during which Roback’s simple fingerpicked acoustic guitar and Sandoval’s achingly beautiful vocals completely enchanted the packed theater; you could have heard a pin drop during the song.
A spot on rendition of “Fade into You,” Mazzy’s closest approximation to a hit during its heyday in the early ’90s, received perhaps the most applause all night, but it was the encore of “So Tonight I May See” that showed Mazzy in all its trippy, psychedelic glory. Roback built swirly, fuzzy, feedback from his guitar into a fiery cacophony in between Sandoval’s spoken word verses that proved more memorable than any guitar solo could have been. As the last notes faded, Roback leaned his guitar against his amp, letting the feedback continue as the band left the stage.
Mazzy Star came back for a second encore, and Sandoval finally addressed the audience, wryly stating, “It’s bed time for you all, not us,” before playing “I’ve Been Let Down,” a jaunty song from Mazzy Star’s third album.
Hopefully, this won’t be the last go-round for Mazzy; I’m almost tempted to take a vacation and drive to Minneapolis to see them on Nov. 12, then continue to Chicago.
Denver band Shady Elders, called in on short notice when original opening acts Mariee Sioux and Entrance Band couldn’t make it, opened in fine style on a set of psychedelic indie pop. The band’s unique sound and presentation bears watching in the coming year.
Look on Down from the Bridge, Cry Cry, In the Kingdom, Lay Myself Down, Ride it On, Does Someone Have Your Baby Now, Into Dust, She Hangs Brightly, Halah, Fade Into You, Blue Flower, Disappear, E: California, So Tonight That I Might See, E2: I’ve Been Let Down