Snail Mail bounces back with overwhelming and uplifting show in Milwaukee

After her entire industry was grounded by COVID-19 in 2020, Lindsey Jordan released one of the most acclaimed albums of the last year – “Valentine” (co-produced by Wisconsin native Brad Cook), behind her project Postal mail.

But the same month the album was released and the indie rocker was about to hit the road, Jordan was grounded again.

Polyps in her vocal cords forced her to undergo surgery and postpone several gigs, including a show in Milwaukee originally scheduled for last December. That show finally happened on Friday.

“It sucks in every way,” Jordan, 23, said from the Turner Hall ballroom stage of the surgery and the postponed tour. “I didn’t know if you were still coming. I really appreciate it. The show is better now.”

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Snail Mail performs at Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee on Friday, September 2, 2022.

At that point, Jordan didn’t even know the best part of the show.

Jordan was about halfway through a 70-minute set when a fan requested the track “Valentine” “c. et al.”, which Jordan and his four backing musicians did not play this tour . But Jordan said she was up for the challenge.

“I just know it’s going to be crazy,” Jordan said. “It’s such a riffy little song. That’s the thing: riffy little songs have to be practiced. Not by me though.”

She was clearly joking, because “c. et al.” was difficult for the talented Jordan, who was performing solo at the time, to succeed.

But it was those flaws, Jordan’s unflappable determination and the enthusiastic cheering of the crowd that made this one-of-a-kind moment so special – and made those intricate guitar riffs, when Jordan nailed them, all the sweeter. .

Snail Mail performs at Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee on Friday, September 2, 2022.

While Jordan’s like-minded peers love Mitsky and Phoebe Bridger have moved on to bigger, more theatrical live shows, Snail Mail is still in the club and small theater stage of their career.

And that has its benefits — the intimacy of the sets, as exemplified at Turner Hall, has heightened the catalog’s vulnerability to Jordan’s broken heart. And a spontaneous performance like the “c. et al.” requested by fans. probably wouldn’t have happened in a bigger room.

But if those big theaters come to Snail Mail – and based on the two excellent albums so far, they deserve it – Jordan’s voice will be ready to fill the big halls.

On Friday night, Jordan suggested his voice had become higher-pitched since the surgery. But live, those floating, sometimes soaring vocals amplified the emotional pathos of songs like “Golden Dream,” her dynamic debut album “Lush,” and remarkable “Valentine” “Headlock.”

Jordan’s lower register still resonates too, and on Friday for “Forever (Sailing)” from “Valentine,” Jordan used the range of his voice to simulate his emotional highs and lows. “So much destruction,” she repeatedly sang with a guttural rasp, the sentiment juxtaposed by piercing cries of “You just don’t forget.”

Jordan also enhanced his live songs with magnetic guitar work, from a snarling solo for “Valentine” song “Glory” to a spunky, wide-eyed guitar intro for “Thinning” from debut EP “Habit.”

And Jordan lightened the emotional load here and there, finishing a can of beer and tossing it to the floor for “Madonna” and playfully dancing to “Ben Franklin” as she repeatedly sang “I’ve got the devil in it.” me”.

Snail Mail performs at Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee on Friday, September 2, 2022.

But Snail Mail was at its best when it fully embraced the pain, most poignant for “Valentine” closer to “Mia.” The live performance on Friday, with Jordan on acoustic guitar, accompanied only by another guitarist, was much slower and more devastating than the recording.

“Isn’t it weird that it’s ending? No late night calls,” Jordan sang at the start of the song. “You’re not here to walk me to my door. Now I love you even more.”

And after what felt like endless agony, Jordan tortured herself further, figuratively twisting the knife.

“You do your hair on the way to his place,” she sang. “I bet he feels so (expletive) light.”

“Are we going to spoil the mood now?” Jordan joked just before starting the song.

Even after bouncing back brilliantly from a career-threatening chapter, it turns out that some things still suck. But Jordan and his fans on Friday were happy to finally empathize together.

Takeaway meals

  • Snail Mail did a cover of Muse’s “Starlight” on Friday, with Jordan and company taking the bombshell off the song. The result was a more direct, yet surprisingly more intimate and personal interpretation.
  • Have we exceeded COVID protocols at shows once and for all? The Snail Mail show was advertised on the Pabst site as requiring face masks and proof of vaccination, but no one checked the cards on Friday, and only a few people were wearing masks.
  • Two groups warmed up for Snail Mail Friday. Hotline TNT threw in a funny garage rock that belied its name, but Momma made a stronger impression. Initially a bit awkward — vocalist and guitarist Etta Friedman made a “That ’70s Show” reference that didn’t land — but Friedman and fellow singer and guitarist Allegra Weingarten were comfortable enough by the end of a 40-minute set to playfully push their instruments into each other for the tongue-in-cheek “Rockstar,” from July’s “Household Name.” The Breeders are an obvious influence, and Friedman was explicit about this Friday, hailing his “favorite band” with a cover of “Divine Hammer.”

The set list

1. “Heat wave”

2. “Speaking terms”

3. “Headlock”

4. “Glory”

5. “Madonna”

6. “Golden Dream”

7. “Thinning”

8. “Automate”

9. “Ben Franklin”

10. “Full Control”

11. “Starlight” (Muse cover)

12. “Forever (Veil)”

13. “Mia”

14. “c. et al.”

15. “I adore you”

16. “Valentine”

17. “Impact”

Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook at facebook.com/PietLevyMJS.

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