This September, I saw Aldous Harding play at DC9. Having seen her perform twice this summer, in both DC and Brooklyn, I was already privy to her idiosyncrasies and atypical performance. Our first encounter was not what I had expected, but in a good way.
She would contort her face while draping herself over her guitar, locking her gaze onto audience members with eyes like knives. Additionally, she wore an entirely achromatic ensemble. To say she is intimidating is quite the understatement.
What once shocked me most about Harding is now what brings me the most comfort. I can expect her head-to-toe outfit of blinding white, her unusual facial expressions, and intensive eye contact. I can also expect that through her performance, she will transport the audience to another universe entirely, where "the weight of the planets" can no longer be felt. (These are lyrics to a new song that has yet to be released.) Aldous played Weight of the Planets, along with another unreleased song entitled Pilot- which she dedicated to NPR's All Songs Considered host, Bob Boilen.
The rest of her set consisted of songs from her masterpiece of an album, Party, released May 2017. Each song was performed just as perfectly as the recordings, yet with a completely different feeling that can only be evoked through seeing Harding live. Her vocals are impressive on the record, but on a stage it is intoxicating. She has easily become one of my favorite artists, and I cannot wait to see her again.
The album, and Harding's songwriting in general, is unusual and brilliant. She explores intimacy and humanity in a manner that is purely her own. Drawing from a language that is laconic yet imaginative. She closed out the set, as she has every time I have seen her, with a cover of Single Pigeon by Paul McCartney as her encore.
Local band, Den-Mate, opened for Harding. Coincidentally, it marked my third time seeing them as well. It was a different setting than what I am used to for the Babe City Records band, with Julia Hale finishing with a few stripped back solo numbers. Their next show will be on October 20 at Black Cat.