When I arrived at Webster Hall to see beabadoobee, the stage name of Beatrice Laus, there was a line around the block to get in. This is a common occurrence for the artist. The venue was bursting with excitement for the singer’s sold-out show, just a few nights into her U.S. tour.
beabadobee’s labelmates BLACKSTARKIDS played first, showcasing a blend of pop punk and hip-hop that is honestly a lot more interesting on paper than in practice. I listened to a few of their songs before the show and didn’t think the recordings matched the same energy required for their songs to shine. However, this was a non-issue in their live performance.
The three core members were giving it 100% throughout, and their drummer and keyboardist provided forceful support. They interacted well with the crowd, who were generally pretty into it, although the band’s more rock-leaning songs went over noticeably better. I guess this isn’t really surprising given that beabadoobee is a rock singer. A moment I found particularly funny and memorable was when one member requested that the Pitchfork writer — who he heard was coming to the show — retract the negative verdict on Pitchfork’s infamous review of Kid Cudi’s “Man on the Moon: The End of Day.”
I’m happy to say that Christian Leave’s set, which followed BLACKSTARKIDS, impressed me a lot more. The small sample of his work I’ve listened to made me expect a slog of sleepy indie-pop music, but he had much more passion live. Lead singer Christian Akridge seemed rather shy — he only talked briefly between songs and didn’t move around much. On the other hand, the lead guitarist was fun to watch and animated throughout the performance. I didn’t recognize most of the songs, but I felt compelled to move with the music because the artist created such a strong sound. Akridge’s high and soft voice was consistent and appropriate. The songs had more than enough variety to keep his brief set interesting. If anything, I wish they played a bit longer.
At concerts, there’s often a clear-cut shift in energy when the headliner comes on. No matter how well the openers are received, the artist that most of the audience specifically came for is bound to receive more cheering from the crowd. I wasn’t sure if beabadoobee got that attention when she played her first song. Sure, everyone screamed when she took the stage, but attendees had been yelling the whole night.
It was on her second song, “Stay,” when I felt the set really ramped up. Laus sounded excellent, and exuded a casual confidence when playing guitar — cool, but not too cool, like any great indie star needs to be. On the few songs when she put her guitar down to just sing, she didn’t seem quite as comfortable, but who would be?
Her band leaned into their grungy side, even bordering on noise rock in some moments, which is entirely enjoyable in my book. The drummer was beating the crap out of his kit, sometimes taking up so much sonic space that all I could make out from the guitars was a faint jumble of noise. The mix was not always great for this reason, but I’ll give the mixer props for always keeping Laus’s voice clear over the wall of sound.
The set flew by, with plenty of shout-along choruses and even the occasional mosh pit. beabadoobee had only played for around 40 minutes when the band left the stage for the obligatory encore break. Despite how trite it is to leave the stage for a minute or two and come back for one more song, beabadoobee made good use of it for pacing. She came back out alone with just an acoustic guitar, remarking “There’s a lot of you, oh my god,” before going into “Coffee,” her 2017 breakout song. This simple, intimate song about taking care of someone with a hangover would have been out of place anywhere else in the set, and as one of her most popular songs to this day, it was unexpected and obvious at the same time.
Webster Hall felt much smaller as everyone sang along to Laus’s sweet and simple melody. She brought the band back out to finish with an amped-up version of “Cologne” from her EP “Our Extended Play,” which she released earlier this year. The noisy and angsty song ultimately devolved into a drone before the band left the stage again.
I left the venue humming “Coffee” and heard someone singing the chorus of “Worth It” on 13th Street. “Coffee” was stuck in my head for the rest of the night, but I didn’t mind at all.
Contact Jack Solomon at [email protected]