Music

Låpsley Stuns Chicago Crowd In Small-Venue Show

Låpsley performs at the Haldren Pop Festival. Courtesy of Martin Schumann

On the night of Nov. 9, I rode my bike over to Park West (322 W. Armitage Ave.) in Lincoln Park to the Låpsley concert. Within minutes, I forgot all about the election drama and was whisked off into a world of dreamy synth-pop music. Låpsley, the stage name of Holly Låpsley Fletcher, is a 19-year-old electro-pop artist from Liverpool who is making waves at the top of the U.K.’s top music charts.

I had been anticipating this concert since I first listened to Låpsley this past summer. I wasn’t sure if she was going to be a great live performer because her only material comes from her new album, “Long Way Home,” which has many electronic pieces that would be difficult to pull off in concert. At first, I was skeptical about how the music would translate into a live setting, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Låpsley was initially tasked with winning over the crowd in Park West, which posed interesting challenges for the performer with its layout and atmosphere. The venue’s leather booths, servers, the upscale cocktail bar, neon lights and dark carpet with a wood floor in the center have a nightclub vibe, so at first, people there were sitting down at tables, and the dance floor was not packed to even half of its capacity.

However, there was little room, if any at all, on the floor by the time the show ended. Although the venue was only half full, everyone rushed to the dance floor as soon as they got a feel for the music and began to realize why Låpsley has garnered so much hype in the U.K. Låpsley didn’t move her body much at all, but she didn’t need to dance to put on a great show.

Låpsley played almost every song from her new album, including the more popular songs “Love Is Blind” and “Cliff.” I enjoyed the cuts that I was not necessarily expecting to hear, such as “Painter” and “Seven Months.”

Låpsley revealed her vulnerable side to the audience a few times during the concert. Toward the end of the show, she told the audience she has two role models: her mother and Joni Mitchell, a Canadian singer-songwriter. She then launched into a beautiful cover of Kate Bush’s “Woman’s Work.”

Just like on the album “Long Way Home,” not a single song at the concert was a dud. In fact, Låpsley’s thick, harmonious voice was better live than on the album, reminding me of a younger, more hip Adele with modern electronic music backing her vocals. With her electronic production and vocal style, Låpsley also reminded me of artists such as James Blake and Jamie xx. During some points of her concert, her voice can leave you breathless.

I couldn’t ask for a better way to close out the show than with the encores of Motown-esque hit “Operator (He Doesn’t Call Me)” and the melodrama “Hurt Me.” There was lots of dancing from the audience, and everyone who came to the show left with a greater appreciation for Låpsley’s raw talent.

Check out Låpsley’s album, “Long Way Home,” if you haven’t yet. I think she will develop as an electronic producer, and her vast, brooding, melodic voice will carry her far in the next few years.

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