Anika appeared before her rapt audience, bathed in lights that seemed a touch too bright for the no wave chill she conjured along with her band, (which features the rhythm section of BEAK>, and an added guitarist and keyboardist). Nevertheless, with her platinum hair and serious black dress, she cut a striking figure on stage. Her generous set included all the songs on her debut as well as a few solid covers (including the stark encore of Popeye’s (yes, the sailor man), “He Needs Me”). Hits like “No one’s There”, “I Go to Sleep”, “End of the World” and her version of Yoko Ono’s “Yang Yang” were standouts.
Anika, not one for small talk, has a cold stare that’s really not cold at all. It creates a distance between singer and audience that works to lift the show into something distinct and not at all casual. She takes it all in while on stage, never breaking the slick veneer of the performance to let any mundane moment of realism slip through. It makes for an iconic and captivating show, comforting yet somber, since I guess some have come to expect a singer to say hello or introduce a song here and there during the night. Unnecessary chit chat isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, however. The dubby, meandering nature of some of the songs and her spoken-word style of singing adds to the off-kilter, experimental mood.
In startling contrast to Anika’s studied focus, a few in last night’s crowd were there for a party, namely a pair of rowdy gents, one wearing an unbelievable, shiny snakeskin jacket and wide-brimmed hat, his “costume” adding to his amplitude. He and his mate were dancing ecstatically and cheering as if at a rodeo, and later, they tried to get a rise out of the bass player during a quiet, between song moment, shouting over, “Phil Spector! Let him out of jail! He’s innocent!” All in good fun. Meanwhile, dead center at the foot of the stage, Lauren Flax of CREEP and Light Asylum’s Shannon Funchess watched on.
Video by Zabatay