“If I don’t see y’all clapping, I’m going to go down there and make you clap!” Thus spoke Alex Winston singing “Medicine,” her final song at Mercury Lounge. Despite the tune’s infectious nature, there were, in fact, some people not clapping in the audience, and Miss Winston did not approve. Following up on her threat, she jumped into the crowd to sing, instantly upping the energy level even as her show was winding down. It’s this type of “devil may care, just have a good time” attitude that personifies Winston’s live show. Blazing through a short-but-sweet, 40-minute set, she jumped around, did a rock power slide, played a song almost entirely by herself and generally made sure that, if anything, people would remember her having fun on stage.
During the highlight of the set, an acoustic rendition of “Don’t Care About Anything” from her Sister Wife EP, Winston showed off the powerful vocals that back up her showmanship. It’s a marvel to watch a singer who not only can belt but also can keep a crowd engaged without resorting to cheap vocal tricks (Christina Aguilera, no one wants to hear you hold a note for 10 minutes). When it came time to sing “Locomotive,” the best track from the aforementioned EP, Winston jumped around, smacking the hell out of her red star-shaped tambourine while keeping her voice perfectly matching what was on the record. A lucky fan in the front row got to join in as part of the rhythm section, as she handed him that same tambourine (an improvement over her show during CMJ, when she got a bit too excited and threw the tambourine into the crowd).
Winston’s backup band is noteworthy both for its size (seven members aside from the Detroit native, including a female three-person vocal section) and how it seemingly blends into the music, leaving Winston to lead with her presence.
As people filed out from the tiny venue, one word constantly overheard was “amazing,” usually preceded by “she was.” That’s Winston’s best trait as a live performer: She usually makes an impression on the crowd, if not for music then for her cheerful live persona.