Holly Miranda – Mercury Lounge – September 18, 2015
In a wide community of transplanted musicians to Brooklyn, Holly Miranda has carved her own storyline. As a fledgling 16 year old, Miranda moved from Detroit to Kings County and played cafes and coffeehouses throughout the city. In true indie fashion, she has recorded several albums through a variety of channels—self-releasing, crowd-sourced and eventually one worldwide release, The Magician’s Private Library. Five years since her global introduction, her latest, Days Are Shorter, Nights Are Longer, has the singer-songwriter returning in fine form following a successful writing trip in Joshua Tree. Pitchfork noted the album “feels both disarmingly intimate and broadly universal, and Miranda’s voice—fragile and fearless in equal measure—mesmerizes even when the lyrics veer toward nondescript platitudes.”
Donning pigtails and a cap, Miranda took the stage at Mercury Lounge just before midnight on Friday evening. Playing largely from her latest album, she began the set with “Mark My Words” and “Desert Call.” The singer asked the crowd, “Are you OK?” before admitting she was “pretty fucking drunk.” Despite her state, one could hear the haunting vocals and anguish in her lyrics, which have been noticed by the likes of Kanye West and Trent Reznor. The energy picked up on the rollicking “All I Want Is to Be Your Girl” as a group of fanboys feverishly danced up front. Switching to the piano, Miranda fussed with the chair before rebooting “Come On.” In an odd but playful moment, the performer explained that she’d received a bucket of garlic from a fan in D.C. and concluded that she had to toss the bulbs into the crowd.
After a few more song restarts, Miranda complained that this is what happens when you play a late show. The effects of too many preshow Negronis did not seem to take away from her lively cover of Morphine’s “Mary Won’t You Call My Name.” She admitted that the set would not be her best show but could be good, which explains why she wanted to get songs right after false starts. It was especially telling on the torch ballad “Everlasting,” as Miranda achingly strained to a trickle, emoting the hills and valleys of heartbreak. The late evening was punctuated with an uplifting rendition of TLC’s “Waterfalls,” complete with the singer’s rapping skills on full display. No encore was needed. It was late and Miranda deserved a good sleep. —Sharlene Chiu