Prior to watching Torres perform live last Friday, I had never heard the albums or seen her perform. All I knew going into the dark basement of the Doug Fir was that the moniker known as Torres came up in nearly every conversation during the past month that pertained to contemporary bands.
When that happens—the kind of repetitive conversations with strangers attempting to educate you about the five female fronted bands they know of—expectations of these bands can roll one of two ways: I would either arrive with escalated presumptions, watch the first three songs with my head tilted to the side and my arms crossed then walk away asking myself “What’s with all the hype?” or stay completely mesmerized for an entire 45 minutes set and leave annoyed at myself for not listening to people.
The moment singer/songwriter/guitarist, Mackenzie Scott, walked on stage, we all knew we weren’t going anywhere. With a piece of Palo Santo and a lighter, Scott purified the crowd, setting the mood for the intense, heart-wrenching, emotional rollercoaster that was to follow. Scott stood tall, looking straight ahead as the guitar–driven brood rock filled the room. One of the things that stood out the most, —besides being reminded of every previous heartbreak in my life—was the effective use of pedals to build the dynamics that followed behind formidable lyrics. In “Cowboy Guilt” the tension dismantles graciously with organ-like sounds and robotic riffs, while the heavy-hitting distorted barre chords of “Strange Hello’s” verges on being metal-inspired. After that song, Scott jokingly exclaims, “that was for the person who broke into our van” and laughs it off, finding comfort in knowing that there are worse things in life.
As I walked out of the venue I became well aware of the excitement surrounding Torres. Introspective lyrics grasp you and bring you closer with finger picking melodies, delayed effects and song structure that moves like waves. Live, Scott is evocative and compelling, even when at times seeming vulnerable—making her performance one not to be missed.