Sky Ferreira was a running a few minutes behind. She wasn’t so late that people were aggravated, but it left enough time to get another drink, check phones, or run to the bathroom. As everyone was moving about the Music Hall of Williamsburg, I started to look around at the crowd. About three rows back from the stage there was a man by himself, dead center, probably 55 years old. He stood out from the rest of the crowd, full of kids just old enough to drink but not old enough to rent a car. “Maybe he’s someone’s dad?” my friend suggested when I pointed him out to her.
Once Sky started, I glanced back over at the man in the third row. He was singing every word, right on cue with her. He wasn’t someone’s dad. He was a fan, and a big one at that.
That’s the appeal of Sky’s music though. It doesn’t matter if you are 55; her songs make you feel like you’re back in the midst of teenage angst, lust, and fear. Her lyrics read like pages of a diary—“Nobody asked me if I was OK,” “You put my faith back in boys,” and “I wish these 24 hours would never end.” Despite this, her music never feels overly juvenile. That night, she wasn’t singing to those who have yet to experience her songs’ subject matter. Instead, she was singing to those who have already gone through it, forging a connection based on mutual nostalgia.
Her audience aren’t the only ones transported back to a younger version of themselves. It’s apparent that when Sky sings, she also steps directly into the person she was when she wrote it. When she sang “I Blame Myself”—a song that put Ferreira on the defensive after she released a controversial video for the track—she sang it with an unbridled intensity, as if the crowd morphed into every naysayer she’d ever encountered. During “Sad Dream,” one of her simplest, most beautiful songs, Sky became so emotional that she started to cry during her performance. “I’m sorry, I’m so embarrassed,” she laughed as she wiped away tears from her cheeks. The audience cheered her on. We all knew what she was feeling in that moment, each of us envisioning whatever painful relationship we had experienced.
Fittingly, Ferreira still has a certain awkwardness on stage. Despite opening up for artists like Miley Cyrus and Vampire Weekend in stadiums around the world, it’s clear she still isn’t fully sure of what to do up there. After they played their last song, the band started to exit the stage, clearly giving room for the audience to cheer them back on for the encore. Sky stayed, and looked around, confused, asking, “Wait where are you going? We still have to play ‘Everything’s Embarrassing’.” But unlike most newer musicians, this slight awkwardness doesn’t detract from her show. It adds to her overall charm as yet another way for her audience to feel like everyone’s in that same uncertain place, together.
Throughout the whole concert, that one older guy never stopped singing. Who could blame him? He got to feel like a teenager again. We all did.
The show was in support of the David Lynch foundation, with a portion of every ticket sold going towards their good work. Find out more here.