For someone who consistently writes about electronic dance music, I was out of my element when I headed over to (Le) Poisson Rouge in the East Village on Thursday, July 11th to see Skylar Grey. It was foreign, but I quickly reminded myself that this was the kind of music I listened to growing up. So maybe it wasn’t so foreign, after all. Maybe it was just a friendly reminder that there are a myriad of different genres of music out there other than EDM, and that I had forgotten my roots. Although this is a scene I wouldn’t ordinarily consider myself a part of, I have to admit that it was a nice change of pace from the insane, jostling and wild atmosphere of music festivals and clubs.
Not knowing what to expect, I entered the lounge through a set of double doors that opened to an immense, dark room filled with an entire audience sitting at tables. Red and blue lights shone on stage as the crew continued to set up, and the (Le) Poisson Rouge logo was projected in red flourescence on the walls around us. Strategically enough, there was very little cell service in the building, forcing all to give their undivided attention to Skylar (who was well deserving of it, anyway).
The atmosphere was calm and casual, and soon enough, drums started beating, and the sound of guitar strings reverberated throughout the room. Everyone began cheering, and Skylar, wearing a white skirt, black tank, black leather boots and a plaid shirt wrapped around her waist, took to the piano.
She began with the most popular song on her latest album, Don’t Look Down — “Back From the Dead.” Hearing her voice live was just as soothing as it is recorded; Grey is as real as she comes.
Walking to the foot of the stage, she said, “I’m shocked to know [Don’t Look Down] is #2 on iTunes. Totally didn’t see that coming. I feel so blessed and grateful.” A few other songs she presented from her new album included, “C’mon Let Me Ride,” “Final Warning,” “Only Thing I Hear” (bonus track, not on album), and "Wear Me Out.”
She engaged the crowd in playful, sometimes self depricating banter, noting that before rising to fame, she was living in a cabin "like the unabomber." Skylar said, “I’ve never played a show in NY before where everyone was listening and nice (people laugh), so it’s nice being here.” Returning to the piano, she began singing “White Suburban,” a song about not being able to let go of your first love. The room became silent during this one; the mood quickly became somber as the lights dimmed to a soft blue. I swear I saw a few tears shed.
Sitting at the piano once more, she began “Coming Home.” The crowd applauded, and within seconds she shifted to “I Need a Doctor,” a song she worked on with Dr. Dre and Eminem in 2010. Finally, she presented “Love The Way You Lie, Pt. III;” she co-wrote its three versions, the first of which is most famously performed by Eminem and Rihanna. During this song the room was lit with cell phone cameras suspended above heads to record this hit song.
Finishing her one-hour show with “Religion,” a song about losing hope and trying to regain it, I found myself wanting more. While short, Skylar’s performance was an impressive showcase of Don’t Look Down, which was released on July 9th. What we have here is a young individual who is highly underrated, and is finally finding her purpose and direction in the world as she gains recognition from the media and public. Gifted with a beautiful voice, the ability to convey raw emotions and singing about subjects which everyone can relate to, Skylar Grey has quite a bit going for her.
On Wednesday, July 10th, Grey kicked off her Don’t Look Down Tour in support of her new album release at World Café Live in Philadelphia, PA. Over the next two weeks, she will be visiting over a dozen cities across the nation (and in Canada). Her schedule can be found here. Be sure to check out her new album, which has received rave reviews on iTunes.