Monday, March 13, 2023

Live Shows: Squirrel Flower, Horse Jumper of Love, and NOVA ONE, Fete Music Hall, Providence, RI 3/8/23

Photo by Alexa Viscius

I've been a fan of Squirrel Flower since first hearing "Red Shoulder" back in 2019, and I've been trying to see her live since then. Obviously a global pandemic made that quite difficult for a long time, but it seems like she's played the Boston area a bunch of times, but it just has never quite worked out for me. Once she announced a solo tour with Horse Jumper of Love was coming to Providence, and it worked out for my schedule, I knew I had to make it. NOVA ONE getting added as local support ended up being a huge bonus for me.

NOVA ONE opened the evening with a set consisting of mostly new songs from their upcoming album due out on March 10. Roz Raskin made a comment that they were a bit nervous since it was new songs, but there was no reason to be. Breaking the evening's theme of solo performances (Raskin was joined by a second guitarist), songs like "crying" and "dangerous" held up with more well known ones. Seeing that NOVA ONE's membership is a fluid mix of musicians, each performance I've seen has always been different from the others. Their blend of intimate dream pop influenced by early 60's pop will always work for me, and I can't wait to see what they're like next time I get to see them.

Horse Jumper of Love is the artist of the three I knew the least about. For this tour it's just Dimitri Giannopoulos playing his band's slowcore songs on an acoustic guitar. He opted to go NOVA ONE's route and play newer songs before ending his set with some more well known ones. His performance was one of the quietest I've ever seen, and benefitted from one of the most attentive crowds I've ever been in. This was the type of intimate performance that could have been completely ruined by a lesser crowd, but I didn't even hear a whisper for the entire duration. Giannopoulos thanked the crowd for this, and mentioned that the previous evening had loud laughter in the back during his set. (Way to go, Portsmouth, NH.) Of course, as soon as he was done playing the venue cranked their Generic 90's Hits Playlist which started off with Hootie & The Blowfish's "Only Wanna Be With You." Venues really need to do a better job choosing playlists for their shows...

Luckily, the next song (Green Day's "When I Come Around") had barely gotten going when Squirrel Flower took the stage. Ella Williams chose to go in a different direction than the previous artists for her solo set and play mostly older songs that are too experimental to play with a full band. She peppered her set with plenty of guitar and vocal loops, creating this gorgeous wall of sound that helped flesh everything out. Having never seen her play before, I was hoping to hear more of my newer favorites, but that just gives me a great excuse to go next time she comes around! Squirrel Flower was the third artist of the evening that was utterly captivating and had the entire audience ensnared in her musical charms. By the time she closed with "your love is a disaster" off 2021's Planet EP, she somehow increased my fandom to an even more intense level.

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