Sky Ferreira has been busy these days. She just wrapped up a small tour to promote her long-awaited (and incredible) debut record Night Time, My Time (iTunes), had a mishap with the law in upstate New York which was completely blown out of proportion according to her (she explains herself rather candidly in an interview with John Norris). After experiencing supposed bouts of laryngitis and bronchitis which have been misdiagnosed by many doctors this past year, medical professionals finally got to the root of the problem— vocal nodules. Something “ruptured” in her throat while on tour supporting Vampire Weekend, which resulted in her canceling her remaining dates with the Columbia graduates. Phew! Let that sink in.
All of this might sound a bit vague and far-fetched but here at PopBytes we believe her. Sky is proud of this record and is ready and willing to promote it. At a recent Webster Hall show in NYC, where she struggled (in the most endearing way possible) through the beginning of her set, she still managed to get through every track off of Night Time, My Time, plus a few songs off her Ghost EP (iTunes). She wants to show the world what she’s accomplished after getting lost in record industry turmoil. Pulling through her set at Webster Hall proved she’s a genuine artist with something to say and here at PopBytes we’re all listening.
This brings us to yesterday where Sky spent most of the day in Manhattan at The Late Show with David Letterman, performing her single “You’re Not the One” and then making her way to Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the evening to play a set for the grand opening of the renowned British indie record store Rough Trade’s U.S. flagship store.
David Letterman introduces “singer-songwriter” Sky Ferreira while an image of her album appears on the screen. The Gaspar Noé shot of Sky, nude and wet, is there on the television, in all its glory and it’s a bit startling. Then the camera pans to her on stage and she looks stunning. The model-actress-musician definitely dressed up for the occasion. The triple threat was clad in a business suit of sorts; short skirt and matching blazer covering up what seemed to be a see-through blouse with glittering tights. To complete her look she swapped her boots for heels, wore her trademark bleached blonde hair pinned down and applied bright red lipstick. To top it all off she wore a pair of black sunglasses for most of the song.
Sky caresses the microphone stand as the song’s opening guitar riff takes us to Cyndi Lauper in 1983. She evokes Debbie Harry punk with some 90s angst. She nervously holds her blazer closed, worried she might expose herself but eventually finds her rhythm. Sky dramatically pulls off her shades for the last forty seconds of the song and when the song ends she stares off into the crowd with a pouted red lip. Model. Slay is the only word to describe her performance and I can’t help but wonder what America is thinking while Letterman wishes her a happy Thanksgiving. But don’t take my word for it, watch her slayage below.
Rough Trade is a London-based record shop with two locations across the Atlantic which curates a unique collection of independent music. The first shop opened up in 1976 and specialized in punk and post-punk vinyl. Two years later the shop thrived into an record label as well. They released seminal albums by artists like The Smiths, Jenny Lewis, Sufjan Stevens and Arcade Fire. Rough Trade considers itself a “community based environment,” focusing on a physical space for people to enjoy independent music. The Williamsburg location is 15,000 square feet, designed thoughtfully in an old HBO prop warehouse just a block away from the East River waterfront. The record shop wanted to blend in with this post-industrial part of Brooklyn in more ways than one. In architecture and design they used old shipping containers to build the interior of the shop. It’s not only the largest record store in New York City but it also contains an in-store café, lounge space, and (with the help of Bowery Presents) a legitimate performance space.
Last night was the grand opening of Rough Trade NYC and Sky Ferreira christened the venue with her brooding 80s murky synth-pop. If you purchased Night Time, My Time (they only carry the beautiful vinyl version) or her B-Sides Pt. 1 on CD, you were offered a wristband to see her perform for free. In the sea of vinyl-sifters, I couldn’t tell who was attending the show or not, until a line started forming near the front of the store. Coincidentally, I happened to be one of the first few people there so I was guaranteed a good spot near the front of the stage. Some Sky stans were standing in front of me on line being stan-like. I spotted John Norris and more and more friends of mine showed up. They checked IDs because there is supposedly a full-service bar inside the venue. They admitted us and we parked ourselves stage left, since we know Sky favors that side of the audience. The performance space looks like a miniature Bowery Ballroom (my favorite venue in New York City). Small general admission floor with a balcony overlooking the audience in perfect view of the stage. If Rough Trade continues booking good artists (Ida Maria, John Grant, Childish Gambino are all scheduled to play) it might knock the legendary Bowery Ballroom down from my number one spot.
Setlists are taped to the ground and they all have different song titles written on them. One actually lists Puppies, Rainbows, Dick Slappin and Best Guess as songs. Even the ones with real song titles didn’t match up to the actual set. Sky’s band pours out on stage from behind a black curtain and she follows suit. She replaced the blazer from the David Letterman performance with a black leather jacket, let her hair run wild, and took off the heels for more sensible boots. In her meek and endearing way she says, “Hi!” to the audience and introduces her first song, “Ain’t Your Right.” Despite her trepidations about her health problems interfering with her vocals, she sounds great. “We would still love you, even if you didn’t sound good Skyyyyy,” a super fan screams from the crowd. “But I care,” she responds while looking back at her band smiling with a partial eye roll.
She performs all the standout tracks off her album. The longing-for-a-lover pop anthem “24” and the soft synthy 80s ode “Love In Stereo.” She was worried to play the self-reflexive “I Blame Myself” (about the “hounds of hell”) because of her voice, but she slayed it! It’s one of those exceptional songs that flourish in a live setting. These hounds in her life are pestering her and she’s annihilating each one of them, one by one. Along with “I Blame Myself,” her rendition of “Heavy Metal Heart” was spot on. I can feel the pulse of my heavy metal heart … is still repeating in my head today.
The only song she performs from 2012’s Ghost EP is the Ariel Rechtshaid-produced “Lost in My Bedroom” and it’s certainly a crowd favorite. “This is the last show I’m playing this year,” she confesses to the crowd. At first it startled me until I realized we’re about a month away from 2014. There’s still a lot of life in Night Time, My Time and the rest of the world needs to hear it. This downtime is much needed for Sky; she must rest her voice for a few months before she embarks on Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz tour with Icona Pop which she described as “Miley’s version of Lilith Fair, but a lot more fucked up.”
Once her set was over she also did a signing in the back of the record shop, appeasing fans’ request for pictures. I awkwardly asked her to sign it to me and I immediately wanted to take back my request. I don’t know what kind of shenanigans Miley, Sky, Caroline and Aino will get into next year, but I’m sure everything will be embarrassing and iconic when they are all just being Miley.