Marissa Nadler Laid Emotions Bare

Photo Courtesy of

Charles Turner

I actually had never been to a concert at Reverb Lounge in Benson before. So when I was asked to go cover Marissa Nadler last Sunday, I was intimidated. I am still inexperienced covering music, and this was the first I’d heard of Nadler, but life is not without its struggles, so I said yes. Reverb’s a really cool venue, small enough so that you can have an intimate experience with the band, but big enough so that it is in fact still an experience. There’s something that gets lost when you can’t talk to the musicians afterwards, you lose that connection and that understanding of these people as artists.

Marissa Nadler is a magnetic talent; with a soulful voice and lyrical poeticism that strikes you at your core. Born and raised in Boston, she has been active in music in some form or another since 2000. In this time, she has married the sound of a folk ballad with the surrealism of a Northwest indie band. Her latest album bears similarities to the work of say, Fleet Foxes. It’s the kind of music for a solemn night outside among the stars, mourning days gone by or nursing a breakup.

Nadler’s set consisted of a lot of sad music; of days long gone, of people she had long left behind, of those intangible parts of life. Her set had a sort of emotional nudity to it, a bluntness that left me raw as well. There’s a real poetry to it, a sense that she’s been around the block a few times. Art is not born from life always going as planned, and there’s hints of life not always going perfectly is Nadler’s songs.

My first impression of the opening acts was that they didn’t really fit what I had read about Nadler. I had pictured her akin to what her earlier work sounded like, and the opening acts, Muscle & Marrow based out of Seattle, and Wrekmeister Harmonies based out of Astoria, Oregon; sounded downright experimental. Wrekmeister more so, which I can equate to just not really being my taste. Muscle & Marrow had a good set however, very grungy and hard sound. It did not come as a shock to me when I found out they were based in Seattle. Actually getting to listen to Nadler, her sound actually complimented the previous acts amicably. She mixed her sound with the harder, more surreal sound of the opening acts.

What’s nice about how Reverb Lounge does its concerts is that the musicians will often have booths set up after the show. An act like Wrekmeister, for example, didn’t really vibe with me; but when I spoke to the musicians afterwards, I discovered that I liked them as people and ended up having a good experience. It’s something that adds to the show, and improves upon it. It’s a fantastic element that you don’t see much outside of small venues like the places in Benson.

This show was an emotional experience, and far more spiritual than I could have ever anticipated. Nadler’s lyricism struck me right in the soul, and got me quite emotional. The opportunity to experience music on this intimate, small level is one of the really cool things about Benson, and the experiences that come through that are irreplaceable.


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