NEW YORK, NY – There’s a reason why British indie musician Kate Nash received the Brit Award for Best Female Solo Artist earlier this year, and America has caught on.
Sure, she may be only 20, but Nash’s seasoned vocals and electrifying stage presence were enough to sell out two nights at Webster Hall in New York City on April 23 and 24. As a front row attendee of the first night and having seen her at the Bowery Ballroom this past January before her explosive success in the United States, I was taken aback for a second time, perhaps even more so.
From her wit, charm and occasional bitterness to her dexterity in both guitar and keyboard, Nash demonstrated just how the right blend of sweet ballads and raucous rants can come together to create a lively atmosphere of singing and dancing fans.
Sporting a black and white striped jumper with red lips to complement her auburn locks, Nash kicked off the set with recent single “Pumpkin Soup,” which instantly amplified the crowd with energy to last the night. Immediately delving into “Shit Song,” Nash injected her characteristic attitude early on.
With a backing band of three, Nash switched off between keys and guitar, slowing things down as she strummed to “The Nicest Thing,” providing the quietest part of the set as Nash took stage right and performed the solo acoustic love confession.
Nash’s frantic breakdown in “Skeleton Song” was a show highlight, as her wild shouts and discordant key pounding went haywire for a period of audience enthrallment, before returning to her subdued manner and melodic piano playing.
Shouts including “I love you Kate!” and “You’re a crazy bitch!” came from the crowd as the night went on, to which Nash awkwardly laughed about, reminding the audience of her age and naivetÃ©, but her endearing temperament nonetheless. Nash played new songs “Paris” and “Pick Pocket,” both reminiscent of the tracks on her debut Made Of Bricks.
Nash played fan favorites “Foundations” and “Mouthwash,” both of which had fans singing in unison and bopping along with, while Nash’s talent for keys never sounded better.
She was sure to thank supporting act, the Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players, who were less than worthy of her gratitude. For whatever reason, Nash had taken a liking to the New York City band at a show in England, but as many of the blank stares in the audience showed, the performance might have made more sense on an acid trip.
The indie rock band, which literally was a family, featured the 14-year-old daughter on drums, the dad switching between keyboard and guitar, and the mom working a slideshow projection presentation of lyric-inspired photos the Trachtenbergs had bought from garage sales around the country. Somehow, it was even more peculiar than it sounds, and in no way worthy of applause.
Luckily, Nash gave fans more than a worthwhile performance, closing the night with new song “Model Behaviour.” Before playing, Nash’s charisma came out, as she explained the inspiration for the aggressive punk-like song came from a time when models unknowingly smacked Nash in the head with a roll of paper towels in a bathroom. In her heavy accent, Nash told the crowd, “We felt a bit better after writing this one.” Nash stood up and rocked out to the punk-inspired anthem, motivating audience members to do the same as she repeatedly shouted the chorus, “You don’t have to suck dick to succeed!”
Last was “Merry Happy,” to which Nash took to her keys one last time, finishing with untamed notes from running her palms up and down the keyboard, playing the instrument as if it were a drum.
A stellar performance by such a young musician can only lead to two things: a promising career for Nash, and plenty more breathtaking performances for fans.