Few acts have as natural a command of the stage as Michelle Blades. On Thursday at Pop Kultur, the Indie rock multi-instrumentalist delivered a fun, wild and intense show that loosened the crowd up more than anything I’d seen all week.
It was her second time playing Pop Kultur, but her first with a full band, making it difficult to imagine anything less. The rhythm section was tight and heavy, with Blades alternating between bass and guitar duties herself. Her chemistry with the other lead guitarist onstage was a joy to behold. The two danced around each other like a couple of old beer buddies, even fearlessly going for “guitarmonies” at certain points of the set. The keyboard player provided ridiculous theatre organ and synth sounds that gave the set serious dorky energy. She also provided backing vocals for Blades, and their voices worked together beautifully.
the joy and energy Michelle Blades brought to the room felt like an act of generosity
Musically, there was a lot to enjoy here. The songs were full of dissonance, irregular time signatures, unusual structures and manic punk energy, but pop sensibility and a sincere respect for the audience kept everything fresh and enjoyable. Guitar tones varied from clean, jangly lead playing to St. Vincent inspired fuzz and wild whammy effects.
Blades herself switched between clean and distorted microphones depending on how loud they were going to get. Many of the songs built to instrumental rock’n’roll madness, but such moments never overstayed their welcome and the crowd loved it.
At one point, Blades realised she wasn’t going to drink her water and offered a bottle to the crowd – an offer that someone in the front row graciously accepted. Weirdly, this moment seems to sum up the experience for me. I didn’t realise I was thirsty for something like this, but the joy and energy Michelle Blades brought to the room felt like an act of generosity. If you ever get the chance to check out the show, it will surely put a smile on your face.