Lana Del Rey @ Easy Street Records 03.10.12

March 10, 2012

It's not exactly your most conventional local live debut for an artist with the considerable hype that Lana Del Rey has, but in many ways, the announcement of an out of the blue In-store almost makes a ton of sense.  After "tanking" on SNL, it was clear that despite a solid album full of unique takes on the modern pop tune and fantastic production, that Lizzie Grant (Lana's birth name) was still far from ready to excel in a live format.  In-stores in which case, give her the chance to play smaller rooms to more friendly crowds, and perhaps earn a bit of that adorati on back from the days of "Video Games" (seriously, doesn't it feel like a million years since that track came out?)

Easy Street, while intimate is by no means a tiny place. I myself showed up about an hour and twenty minutes before she was due to take the stage and was already 5 or so rows back from the tiny stage, about 50 people already in the room crowding the vinyl aisles in wait.  A mixed bag of younger kids, (two girls with their dad and heads draped in floral wreaths ala the Video Games promo photo) as well as older, more curious folks who had just learned to be patient and show up early to shows that peak their curiosity. (refreshing, as those who show up late and squeeze their way to the front exist somewhere on the scale of ridiculous to extremely irritating).

The set begins right on time, to shouts of "Oh my God" and after about 9 PA announcements from her manager stating that if you bought a record and are planning on having it signed there will be NO time for pictures, they've got a plane back to LA to catch (really?).  The warehouse door pulls up revealing Lana's 2 man crew, keys and an acoustic guitar before Lana herself casually strolls out from behind the curtain. My immediate thoughts being that she's much plainer in real life, looking less "glamorous" and more "girl you went to high school-ish". Which isn't a bad thing, but merely an observation.  Onto the songs..

She opens with an acoustic rendition of Born to Die which finds her voice drenched in reverb and other effects.  Winning over older fans by belting out the songs chorus "Let me fuck you hard in the pouring rain" which, to be honest seems a little weird coming from the mouth of this seemingly innocent young girl. But she comes through alright, her live vocals not nearly as intoxicating as the album version but not terrible either, however by the time Blue Jeans rolls around it's clear there's still some real problems and struggles.  That song is....just a mess live, refer to the SNL performance and you'll see what I mean. She comes off less as a pop star as she fights with her limited range and when you throw in the hokey piano rhythm this guy is playing, at times the set feels more like a neighbors broadway audition, you want to root for them but sometimes you just have to laugh. I took a note that says "when she belts out the words I will love you till the end of time, she sounds less like a singer and more like she's throttling a goose". Harsh, but pretty on point.

She interacts with the crowd a bit, giving a shout to the Sub Pop folks she meant just before going on, and amidst the break between songs someone shouts "I wanna touch your lips!"... classy. Videogames is spot on and mostly redeeming if not for some Christina Aguilera vocal stylings toward the end that border on high school talent show level bad, ouch. And she also clearly still has no idea what to do with her GIANT hands. extending and waving them around uncomfortably as she cruise controls through the tracks, visibly nervous and biting her cuticles during instrumental portions. 

As the main set ends, the lull between tracks gives the crowd a chance to shout for more, tunes like "Radio". "Million Dollar Man" amongst others get a lot of shouts and support, though ultimately Lana decides for her own choice "Without You"... leaving the rest of us wondering if she just didn't care what the kids wanted? Or if she could only pull off certain songs.  The short set continues with the standard feelings, less vocal meandering does her well as we again segue into another non request "Summertime Sadness", the packed record store still transfixed as we all realize this will be our last chance to see the girl for some time.  She bows out and off to sign and says she'll be back soon, though how long that will be till she's ready to embark on a full US tour is somewhat debatable. For a saturday afternoon free performance, I'd down many if any felt like they'd wasted their time or left feeling like they didn't see something worth while.  However, ask someone who paid 30+ for a full set complete with high expectations and your answer might be a little different. Only time will tell what's in store for Lana Del Rey, but here in Seattle if nothing else, we'll always be able to talk about the time she packed out Easy Street records on a saturday afternoon.


Born To Die
Blue Jeans
Video Games
Without You
Summertime Sadness