So, as I alluded to in my previous Marfa Myths post, this festival is really like none other. Each performance had some sort of unique element that I had never seen in person before. In the case of Kelsey Lu, her set at the Marfa Visitor Center, had three big things that stood out to me: 1) there were beanbags (!) and blankets where people could sit and enjoy the music, 2) the stage was a small sort of arena-like setup, allowing the crowd to surround the stage, and 3) I pose this one as a question; have you ever been to a concert in a town’s visitor center? I know I hadn’t.
Although it didn’t compute on the nine-hour drive to Marfa, I realized when I got a little map of the festival that Kelsey Lu would be performing. Two weeks before the festival, if you had asked me who Kelsey Lu was, I would have had no answer for you. However, the week of the festival, I went to the King Krule show at White Oak Music Hall, and showed up fairly early to nab a good spot. When I arrived, I saw this solitary figure standing on the stage, cello in hand. Turns out it was Kelsey Lu, and she made quite the impression on me during her short set in Houston. So, once I had my epiphany that Lu would be performing at Marfa Myths, I knew it’d be a can’t-miss set.
Lu came to the stage, stepping over the legs of lounging festival-goers, as though she was just another member of the crowd. She took her cello out of its case, set it gently on its side. Removed her thigh-high white vinyl boots, bent down towards her mic stand with incense in hand, lit it, and then perched it in one of the stand’s crevices. What happened next truly moved me, it was one of the most intimate performances that I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of.
The nervous energy during her opening for King Krule seemed to diminish the intense emotional journey one takes when listening to Lu’s music. In Marfa, it was a 110% different experience. The crowd was relaxed and eager to indulge Lu in her emotional catharsis. Although the set was just as long as her set in Houston, just days prior, I was mesmerized. She built loops on the spot while building on top of those loops, and so on, all while singing in an angelic way that was goose-bump inducing. One of the songs performed from her limited discography was Lu’s truly awe-inspiring rendition of her latest single, “Shade of Blue,” which took me to a place of melancholy-nostalgia as Lu croons “I’m not over you, but I’m over feeling shades of blue.” The acoustics in the small visitor center seemed to aid her, as her voice resonanted throughout the venue that resembled my middle school’s gymnasium. Also performed were “Morning After Coffee,” as well as “Time,” “Dreams,” and “Liar” all from the cellist’s 2016 project, Church.
Of all the unique acts that I got to catch at Marfa Myths, it is safe to say that Kelsey Lu’s set was easily the best. It was one of the best I have seen in a longtime. I’ve never been a fan of slower music in live settings, but the intimate venue, and the quirkiness of the event itself, created an environment in which I felt I could truly enjoy such music. I highly recommend checking out Kelsey Lu’s music. It’s touching, inspiring, and above all else, beautiful.