Jets Lag, Alice Phoebe Lou Doesn’t

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The Berlin-based indie-folk singer-songwriter opened her North American Tour with a minimalist magic show, performing for an audience in awe of the tricks her guitar, keyboard, and voice could play.

04/02/24 – The Sinclair

Almost one year removed from the release of her fifth studio album Shelter, indie-folk hypnotist Alice Phoebe Lou kicked off her North America tour at The Sinclair, treating a spellbound crowd to a Tuesday night of joy and restoration. With no opener and no band backing the first leg of her tour, Lou abandoned these traditional ornamentations and instead opted for a stripped-back set—a 90-minute minimalist masterclass carried by an acoustic guitar, a keyboard, a drifting voice, and one mesmerizing musician basking under deep blue lighting, wielding the keys to it all. 

As she entered center stage before diving in with her set opener “Halo,” Lou set down a large white mug of Earl Grey tea and informed the audience that “It might get a little psychedelic up in here.” A Berlin-based musician, Lou had just arrived in Boston the previous day and woke up naturally at 2 a.m. the day of the concert. With a body clock yet to adjust from CEST to EST, her ability to move the sea of fans in front of her did not waver, effortlessly sweeping us into her hazy tide.

Lou began her set seated on a stool and strapped with her acoustic guitar, demonstrating no sign of fatigue while maneuvering through lush strums that compose the backbone of Shelter like “Shine” and “Angel.” A few brief scans of the crowd revealed a harmoniously transfixed mass, some quick to mouth the lyrics and most lip-locked out of pure astonishment. It felt as though the crowd formed a universal pact: singing along is welcomed, but only up to a decibel that would not drown out the quivers and glides that make Lou’s voice compelling.

Sandwiched between runs of acoustic guitar performances was a shift to the keyboard, as Lou proclaimed to the audience that there could be a dip in quality with less experience on the keys (note to the reader: there was no dip in quality whatsoever). The ache and tremble in refrains such as “on days you’d sail away I would try to find my own way home” off of “Driveby” married the keyboard’s melancholic vibraphone tone, while a tease of a new song with a refrain of “things will only get better and better” further played into this ambiance with a glimmer of light we all hope(d) to see at the end of the tunnel.

Whether intentional or unintentional, Lou fostered an underlying calm peppered with funny quips to break the trance and remind us of her humanity. She spoke of accidentally misleading her British fans by posting that she would be performing in an unspecified Cambridge, and asked the crowd why Boston and Cambridge are two separate cities (to which nobody had an answer). She also prefaced her performance of “Fynbos” by stating that she hadn’t played it in front of a crowd “in yonks”—an unfamiliar colloquialism made apparent to her by the vast array of confused faces in the audience. She even bantered with the crowd while tuning her guitar throughout, giving us as intimate a glimpse into her mind as we could get. 

Lou and her audience held a palpably mutual appreciation for each other—Lou grateful for her fans sticking with her as she performed through jet-lag, and her fans grateful for her demonstrating vulnerability and not skipping a single beat while performing in a foggy state. An audience member donning a vibrant floral shirt similar to Lou’s preached to the Boston-area choir when he articulated, “I finally got to see my favorite artist live.”

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