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The Advent of Spring: Etta Marcus Gig Review

To celebrate the two-month anniversary of the release of her mini-album, Death of Summer, Etta Marcus played an intimate, middle-of-the-week set in an unorthodox venue in East London.

On Tuesday 26th March, The singer-songwriter had opted to perform at The Conservatory Archives, a plant shop in Lower Clapton which was filled to the brim with both large and small potted houseplants. This made for a unique performance as stages and stage lighting aren't a typical part of the set-up of nurseries. Instead, Marcus just stood behind a microphone in front of a small crowd of only around thirty people, in a corner of the shop; surrounded by green leaves and two guitars on stands beside her. The large windows behind her were clouded with condensation; the raindrops and the blur of the red light of passing buses and cars throughout the set added to the atmosphere.

Etta Marcus maintains a similar theme to her album with the name of this one-off performance, calling it The Advent of Spring. Although, ironically, when I had arrived I was soaking wet and freezing as it had rained all day, with no sign of spring to be found.

Upon arrival we were given a rose, a drink of our choice (I had opted for Blueberry Kombucha, though there was an apple version, or Diet Coke if you so desired), a poster commemorating the show and a zine that resembled a funeral service program. It included the lyrics to all of her songs from the mini-album and various photographs of her playing them. There was an obvious funeral motif, a nod to the name of her album, but the environment held no resemblance to a funeral at all; the plants in every nook and cranny brightened the venue and the fans at the front of the room eagerly engaged with each song and story that she told, excited to have been able to grab a ticket. 

The acoustic set began with a slower rendition of ‘Theatre’, Marcus’ most popular song which has over two million listens on Spotify. Having only the acoustic guitar and her voice to hand in this version of the song, it allowed her powerful, emotional lyrics to shine through, eloquently expressing a burning desire to be loved and how this can cause a person to do anything in order to receive it.

 In the other songs that she played – ‘Little Wing’, ‘Skin Parade’, ‘Lovesick Boys Pray’ – you can hear similarities to artists like Lana Del Rey and Phoebe Bridgers, in not only the introspective lyrics that explore themes of growing, womanhood and heartbreak, but also the beautifully haunting vocals. Marcus also played a cover of Mac Demarco’s song, ‘My Kind of Woman’, and put her own fresh twist on it, turning it into a hazy and desperate sad song rather than the more fast-paced, upbeat sound that the original has.

She also played some one of her older songs, ‘Salt Lake City’, from her first EP. When introducing this song, she revealed that she wrote it alongside Matt Maltese and explained the song writing process with it; stating that ‘song writing is a funny thing.’ Marcus told the audience that they had decided it would make a good song title but had no other knowledge about where it was or what it meant. They wrote the lyrics around the name, turning it into a song about an attempt to make a relationship work by moving somewhere else; this somewhere being Salt Lake City, a city famous for its Mormon inhabitants. 

Marcus ended the forty-minute set with her song, ‘Fruitflies’, which, she told the audience, is a song inspired by the monologue in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag about women having pain built in and her own experiences with that as a woman. The soft vocals and metaphorical lyrics about the discomfort of womanhood makes this song, in my opinion, one of the most striking on her album, and has a resemblance to Mitski’s sound.

Whilst on the make-shift stage, Etta Marcus urged fans to celebrate the two-month anniversary of her mini-album with her by playing it whilst they “lie in bed, rot a little bit, cry a little bit and light a candle.” So, if you’re looking for a fresh new artist with sorrowful songs that will make you ache to add to your sad-girl, late-night playlist, make sure to give Etta Marcus a listen. 

Edited by Lucy Blackmur, Music Editor


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