Show Review: Aldous Harding’s Transfixing Set at Mohawk

Aldous Harding is the kind of artist you just can’t brush aside. Her songs are haunting and penetrating. They hang around like a low, gray cloud cover, blanketing everything in a soft, diffuse light. You’ll find your thoughts turning back to their subtleties long after the record ends.

A week before Harding’s show in Austin, most of the usual show-goers and music writers were singing her praises via various online outlets and platforms. When a good number of music critics all agree on a show, chances are it will be a pretty damn good one. The show last week at Mohawk didn’t fall short of these high expectations, as Harding delivered a transfixing set of somber pop songs that kept the crowd hushed throughout the night.

For those unfamiliar, Harding makes music that sounds something like a blend of Nico and Joanna Newsom, finding both husky, low and high, nasal vocal tones on varying songs on her recent album, Party. Both singing styles are arresting, eccentric, and unforgettable. Coupled with this, Harding has a distinct, performance art approach to her live show, often issuing exaggerated sneers or frowns at the audience or fluttering her eyes back to reveal only the whites. Perhaps emotive or melodramatic, the style works for her brand of sustained, stern pop.

Throughout the evening, Harding alternated between sitting on a stool while playing guitar and standing without instrument for various songs. Supported by only a keyboardist / backup singer, her performance retained the minimal aesthetic the songs do on the record. I’ve rarely heard Mohawk so quiet for a show, despite the small indoor room being packed with fans. Harding’s album has only been out for a little over a month, and I think big things will happen for her in the coming year—festival appearances and plenty of media buzz. Keep a lookout for her to tour behind the album more and, if we’re lucky, return to Austin in the near future.

Austin’s own Julia Lucille and Krista Van Liew played outstanding opening sets. Lucille released an outstanding album recently on Keeled Scales Records. Van Liew’s most recent song came out in December, and we’re looking forward to hearing more from her great band in the near future.

All photographs © Bryan C. Parker & Pop Press INTL.; click any image to open set in slideshow viewer.


About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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