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'Empress Of' at The Scala - 26.03.2019

The Scala is a quiet venue – so quiet and wide that as the opening act performed, you could hear other people’s conversations in the crowd. It seemed hard to keep your eyes on the stage when the venue itself was so spaced out. However, as Empress Of walked on stage to the sound of Latin music, it was no question that all eyes would be on her.

Empress Of’s set was completely unique. The songs blended into one another with mixes of Spanish chants, and even an extract of Ariana Grande's "thank u, next” incorporated in her interludes that kept the energy alive all throughout the evening. She began the show with two of her Spanish songs Trust Me Baby and In Dreams, showing off her delicate vocals. Then, she moved on to her more danceable tracks, like Everything to Me, an ode to her friendship with Dev Hynes, who is musically known as Blood Orange. Decked in a black vinyl skirt and crop top, Empress Of seems like she’s too cool for everyone. Yet, when she speaks, it is clear she is nervous. She explains that she doesn’t have pauses between her set because of how awkwardness she feels when speaking in front of an audience, especially as she is performing in London where she has heard everyone is "really cool". So, she asks the crowd to share their confident energy with her because all she has is a nervous one.

When she gets back to performing, it is incredible to see how much more confident she is when singing. She waltzes across the stage, dancing with an assertiveness that is completely unexpected coming from someone so shy. Empress Of has been making music since 2012 and even though her style has evolved, the mix of old and new songs incorporate themselves seamlessly into her setlist. Altogether, the songs feel like being part of an upbeat dance party surrounded by all your friends. Highlights of the show included her performance of Water Water, from her first album, followed by I Don’t Even Smoke Weed, a track from her most recent album ‘Us’. Both songs were accompanied by flashing lights, which turned the entire venue into a 80s music fuelled trance. Later on, she performed Woman Is A Word with incredible enthusiasm, pointing at the crowd as she chants "I’m only an image of what you see/ You don’t know me" – she might be right.

When she returns for her encore, thanking the crowd and then her mom, for designing her outfit because the original costume she wanted for her tour was too expensive. Although Lorely lets the music do most of the talking during her show, is these quirky moments that make her even more endearing to the audience. She then plays two slower songs and reminds the audience that it is a Tuesday night, so she wasn’t expecting us to go out partying anyway. Her set ends with Best to You, her collaboration with Blood Orange – a soft and enchanting performance under purple lights.

Empress Of’s performance was unlike anything I have ever seen before. She will be playing Primavera Sound and opening for Maggie Rogers’ almost sold-out tour in Autumn, so hopefully, the world will soon be able to discover her captivating energy, as well.

Edited by Evangeline Stanford, Digital Editor

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