Review | Laufey’s ‘Bewitched’ Tour in SoCal

Kat Sophia

I’ve come to get the hang of timing for when to arrive for shows as a reviewer-slash-avid concert goer. I drove past the familiar black block letters that announced “LAUFEY,” and casually rolled into the parking lot. Walking to the venue, I was soon face-to-face with the longest line I’d ever seen there — by far. I thought to myself, this can’t be the line to The Observatory; it reached an area of the venue I hadn’t ever even seen humans reside before. It was. Then, once inside, I could barely enter the main room because the merch line had snaked all the way to the entrance of the venue, which, again, had previously never been an issue.

But the most awe-inspiring moment of the night was when the show started. I was familiar with the work of the half Icelandic, half Chinese singer from some very sporadic sources: first, I’d seen a video of hers on TikTok, just her and an electric guitar. At the time she had a few thousand followers, and I remember being blown away in the first few seconds by her writing, voice, and playing ability, sending it to a few friends, then going about my day. Fast forward years later, I saw she had performed with the Philharmonic. I checked out some of those songs and loved it. She’d found her lane, and the collaboration was so fitting. Because of this mellow introduction to her singing with a highly esteemed orchestra, I had expected an extremely laid back show akin to the videos of her singing with them, and of course, some stellar, tightly rehearsed live instrumentation.

Captions: Laufey performs at The Observatory | Credit: @laufey

I was only right on the latter; as I mentioned, the most awe-inspiring moment was when Laufey walked out onstage, and the ensuing cheers. It felt like hysteria, the likes of which were most similar to the crowd at The Eras Tour this year. I later found out, on a podcast I listened to after the show, that Laufey’s main sources of music growing up were jazz, classical, and Taylor Swift, for her relatable lyrics. “I wanted to hear that within the music I made…old men wrote [jazz] for musicals…it loses this sense of relatability.” It’s an inviting concoction, and makes sense. But, at that moment, I was just flabbergasted at how much traction Laufey had gained on TikTok since I hadn’t kept up with her. She took full advantage of the platform in the best way, and it was inspiring to see.

Blushing at the ecstatic scene of fans before her, Laufey opened the show with “Fragile,” mentioning how grateful she was for the fans who lined up outside. Fan favorite “Valentine” was my first introduction to her studio work, and she played it with ease and a playful smirk. It’s a tightly structured song lyrically, with rich word choices that blend seamlessly from one to the next. One aspect of Laufey’s songs that I didn’t fully appreciate before was her sense of humor; lines like “I’m scared of flies, I’m scared of guys, someone please help,” or “I’ve rejected affection for years…now I have it, and damn it, it’s kind of weird” are pure fun in a jazz-inspired song. 

Highlights included “Falling Behind,” “I Wish You Love,” and “Nocturne Interlude,” an instrumental piece that Laufey played on piano under a single spotlight. Laufey switched instruments multiple times, also showing her chops on different guitars and the cello. It was hypnotizing, watching her slip into song after playing a beautiful cello solo. As a violin player, I’ve both seen and participated in a lot of orchestras growing up, but I was ecstatic to witness a singer-songwriter deftly write her own songs, play them on multiple instruments, and sing them perfectly.

The singer-songwriter-cellist Laufey | Credit: @laufey

Laufey ended the show with her hit single, “From The Start.” It boasts old-timey verbiage that has become very signature to her tunes, my favorite is “I sound like a loon.” It gives her songs a classic timelessness of jazz you’d hear in a Woody Allen film, paired with her years of classical training. However, Laufey’s freedom in her use of humor and how deeply she embraces her green point of view on love and life (“she’s so perfect, blah, blah, blah”) make her songs relatable to an extremely young audience, adding to the notion that the modern era of music is cheapening the value of genre.

Laufey’s projects are not only one-of-a-kind, but signal a movement in an entirely new direction in music. In an era where the contemporary pop landscape was previously quite barren of jazz, Laufey proves that if the art is true, the medium it’s delivered in is simply a highlight for your story.

Kat Sophia Arts & Entertainment,Music

2023-12-10 04:32:03 , The Santa Barbara Independent

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