Noise Pop Review: Amy Shark, BOWER, MILCK at The Independent, 2/21/18

by Natalia Perez on February 23, 2018

All Photos by Natalia Perez

Last night’s performances were raw, emotional, and beautiful. You know that feeling you get when someone chooses to open up to you, sharing a personal experience that may have hurt them deeply, but also helped shape them into who they are? All of the performers chose to open themselves up to a room full of strangers, connecting us to each other with emotive lyrics and personal stories of the human heart – both in their song lyrics, and in the backstories while introducing the next song.

BOWER started the night, building momentum as they performed. The band gelled together really nicely, and had awesome chemistry onstage. Their lead guitarist was phenomenal, playing with ease and quiet passion, but they all held their own and produced a great sound.

Bower introduced the next song by asking the audience if they had ever caught themselves thinking about an ex, and wishing that they were thinking about you too. While everyone in the room sighed with memories and nodded, Bower looked around, took a beat, and then said knowingly “It’s a trap!” We all laughed as he launched into his musical rendition of those conflicted feelings.

Next, MILCK took the stage and treated us to her powerful voice, vulnerable lyrics, and determination to find hope in even the darkest places. It was an intimate set with just her beautiful voice, two keyboards, and her emotional connection to the stories woven into her poetic songs. Before singing “Black Sheep,” she told us her parents’ immigration story and how hard they worked to create a better life for their family. She shared how she had often felt she was on the outside of various cultures and communities, looking in, but not quite being able to fit in.

She sang us a beautiful cover of “Ooh Child (Things are Gonna Get Easier),” starting a capella after dedicating it to the inspiring youth in Florida finding their strength, their voices, and leading the fight for change.

Before ending her set, MILCK told us how her song “Quiet” changed her life in more than one way. She explained how it was written as a release of pain she had been holding onto as a survivor of abuse and an eating disorder. It served as a form of therapy at the time, but later as events around the country unfolded, it turned into a way to use her art as her voice. Against advice to keep the song under wraps, and on the brink of giving up on her dreams as a musician, she organized a flash mob performance with 25 people from across the country at the 2017 Women’s March in DC. A video of it went viral – the cathartic song resonating with millions of people across the country – and the #ICANTKEEPQUIET movement began. She believes that honesty has the power to heal, and the way MILCK shared her truth with us was inspiring and poignant.

Amy Shark continued the beautiful openness of the evening, baring it all in her tender, thoughtful lyrics. She brought energy and fun as well, backed by a talented band and strong, moving beats. Her dancing was contagious, and her smile was genuine as she shared memories of her best and worst times.

She took several songs to slow it down, accompanying herself with only her acoustic guitar. Before singing “Middle of The Night,” she painted a picture of the heartache that created it, and how she considered deleting it from her songs. She shared how she came to realize that she couldn’t just remove it because it hurt, and that she needed to remember the shitty times because of how she was able to get through them.

The rest of her set included more vulnerability, then transitioned into faster tempos and an awesome, unexpected cover of Eminem’s “Superman.” She played some of her favorite songs to perform, including “Weekends,” before calling it a night, leaving the audience’s hearts tender – but full – as we headed back out into the world.

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