Julia Holter’s Musical Journey

September 4th, 2012

Julia Holter – The Bowery Ballroom – August 31, 2012

Experimental. Pop. Ambient. Indie. Electronic. Julia Holter spans a wide range of genres, creating a musical journey drawing on influences from classical composition to Middle Eastern beats. On Friday evening, Holter took the stage at The Bowery Ballroom with a sparkly skirt and handbag on her shoulder. Playing largely from her latest album, Ekstasis, she commenced with “Our Sorrows” and “Fur Felix.” Moving from pop sensibilities to the more languid strings of chamber music, Holter’s choral arrangement on “Marienbad” was reminiscent of one Kate Bush.

Although not confirmed, “Try to Make Yourself a Work of Art,” from Holter’s first
album, Tragedy, could be a commentary on her days as an art student at CalArts, where fellow alums like Ariel Pink and John Maus also graced the halls. Over a chattering crowd and clanging cymbals provided by percussionist Corey Fogel, it felt like an artist trying to get the attention of her peers. On conclusion, a fan yelped, “Love art!” Ah, art kids! After that walk down memory lane, Holter went into “This Is Ekstasis.” The title track derived from the Greek word meaning “outside of oneself” perfectly described the otherworldly nature of the evening.

At the night’s apex, Holter crooned the torch song “Moni Mon Amie,” moving from bittersweet delicate speak singing to operatic highs. Whether people were in attendance only to say they saw her when or were confused by her myriad musical personas, half the audience remained as Holter was bathed in spotlight, singing the lyrics “From heaven” from “The Falling Age.” Upon cellist Chris Votek’s final pluck on “Goddess Eyes,” Holter exited the stage, only to return for a final encore of “Sea Called Me Home,” from her Live Recordings cassette. She welcomed audience members to join in on the whistling section, with Fogel and Votek ready to provide lip service. As upon her arrival, Holter thanked the fans and left with her handbag on her shoulder. Girl toted a whole lot of melody and dissonance on a memorable evening. —Sharlene Chiu