Billie Marten comes to Texas

Written by on November 22, 2023

The last time Billie Marten came to Texas was in 2016.  The UK born artist gave a headlining show last Thursday in Austin at 3TEN ACL. Marten released her first EP, As Long As in 2015 and gained popularity in the soft indie genre. She is currently touring in support of her most recent album release, Drop Cherries.

Photo by Katie Silvester

The progression in Marten’s production and lyrical advancement has grown over the years. Marten creates the perfect music for a walk in the park or a road trip through empty fields. Last week, she took the audience to these places as she sang. 

Her opener Taylor Ashton walked on the stage with a pink western suit. He picked up his sticker decorated guitar and his voice rang out. Although Ashton was the only one on stage, the simplicity of his presence translated into a charming performance. Ashton also played the banjo and the audience swooned over the slight switch of genre. His folk adjacent songs streamed well into the ears of the crowd and subtle sways began around the venue. 

Photo by Mia De Los Reyes

Performing his newest release “Beauty Sleep,” Ashton gave an opportunity for the audience to sing along. The sweet love song, “Honey“ was entrancing, and the heartbreak tune “Nicole” gave each person a song they could relate to. 

Photo by Mia De Los Reyes

He gave a background story to each song he sang, treating the audience like a friend rather than a fan. He shared his history of singing in the subway stations and moving from Toronto to Brooklyn. Ashton was not shy to portray himself in a transparent light and the crowd understood. He thanked the Austin audience and his set was over. 

The humble blonde-haired singer made her way to the center stage, immediately she began the slow strum of “Mice.” Marten played many songs from her 2019 album, Feeding Seahorses by Hand. Providing an environment that was full of reminiscent energy, the crowd sang along softly. “Toulouse,” “Cartoon people” and “Vanilla Baby” flowed into the hearts of each person in the venue.

Photo by Mia De Los Reyes

The influence of Joni Mitchell was evident through Marten’s soothing soprano voice. The light guitar strums and sweet melodies were akin to the folk influence of Nick Drake. Marten carried herself on stage with a graceful demeanor in the midst of her ethereal performance.

At one point, Ashton was brought back on stage to do a quick cover performance of the 90’s alternative band, Radiohead. It was a twist on Radiohead’s typical dreary style of song.  

Photo by Mia De Los Reyes

After the original twelve-song set, Marten did something rarely done in live shows. She began to take song requests and hands went up among the small venue. 

One fan held up a screen on his phone that read “I flew from Venezuela to see you. I learned English because of you.” Marten’s hands went to her mouth, and she gave a loving smile. She looked him in the eye and said, “This one’s for you.” Marten began to play “Milk & Honey,” from her 2016 album Writing of Blues and Yellows.

Photo by Mia De Los Reyes

Another fan gently called her name and handed her a set of flowers along with a light up cat décor. Marten thanked the fan immensely and placed the gifts on the stage. Marten created a space where fans felt her authentic and kind spirit.

Photo by Mia De Los Reyes

Each song was performed with beautiful sincerity, but when she began to sing “Lionhearted,” my heart melted. It was a show that represented the vulnerability Marten places in each musical release. I felt as moved as I first was upon hearing Marten’s voice for the first time in my headphones years ago.

Photo by Mia De Los Reyes

As Marten took her last song requests and thanked the audience, she let everyone know she would be at the merch table to say hello. Marten provided her fans with a gentle and accepting atmosphere. She brought back to life the true concert experience with her willingness to interact, recognize and appreciate the support of her fans. 

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