Wednesday night shows in New Orleans — when schools are out and the weekend hasn’t really started — tend to draw small crowds. Unless you are a cover band on Frenchmen Street or a major act cutting through the South with a stop in New Orleans, this is the sad and harsh reality for touring acts here. Marissa Nadler is one such unlucky artist. Her stopover in New Orleans brought her and her band to Gasa Gasa for Wednesday night, and the turnout was light.
For the most part, as a music journalist and photographer, I tend to shoot things I know or in which I am generally interested. On occasion, I’ll pull out the “for my portfolio” gig, and Nadler in some ways may have started off as that notion. After her performance at Gasa, howver, I’ll never second guess myself again.
Having reading the press on her latest album, I was curious to see how it would translate live, and was pleasantly surprised by the results. The set was composed mostly of her latest release, Strangers, and her 2014 album, July. There was an odd nervousness to the set that peeked out on occasion, then hid itself again. The banter with her band seemed to mirror the unease. Come to find out, she had been touring non-stop and the sparse yet appreciative crowd drew some unintended yet genuine anxiety.
Aside from the nerves, there was a sad and moving quality to her voice, which mixes unbelievably well with her acoustic guitar — and electric, for that matter. Listening to her, it seemed as though we were peering over her shoulder and looking into her diary, a gateway of sorts into her psyche. With amazing results. And the awe only grew, as Marissa pulled off one of the dreamiest and most haunting covers of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer” I’ve ever heard.
Here’s hoping for another round from this talented artist, in hopes that the ghosts of the city won’t keep her from returning. You can see more pictures here: http://jalbum.net/a/1738345