Sia, photo by Annie Lesser

25-year-old Ximena Sariñana started her set out stiff, seeming uncomfortable onstage, but she let loose on her last song and overtook the crowd with “Mediocre.” She has an amazing voice that has the feeling of an unbridled passion and poetic desperation behind it. While in “Mediocre” Sariñana just played the piano and sang her heart out, she began her set with electronically enhanced music that she performed with her brother Sebastian. The sound wasn’t particularly original compared to what many other electronic-based artists, such as Merrill Garbus (aka Tune-Yards), Andrew Spaulding (aka Space Lions In Outer Space) or even fellow performer of the evening Oh Land, are doing. Although she doesn’t have this problem as much in her recordings, during this live performance, Sariñana’s voice was forced to take a back seat to her attempt to make her music contemporary, and her discomfort with this showed.

Nanna Øland Fabricius, aka Oh Land, has the simple beauty to her voice of Lia Ices but the performance energy, excitement and showmanship of a band like Todd Weinstock and TJ Penzone’s Men Women And Children (RIP 2008) or Ella Riot (formerly My Dear Disco). Oh Land’s set began with Fabricius parading onstage in a gauzy one-piece, which she declared to be her wings, and a hat of feathers, while her drummer and keyboardist wore wolf masks. She continued the show dancing about, letting her wings soar in different directions, hypnotically waving through the air as she sang.

Watching Sia was kind of like watching Dory in Finding Nemo. Her eyes were big and wide; she was easily distracted and constantly wanted to make sure everyone around her was feeling appreciated; and she was as bright and colorful as any Pixar character. After her first song she collected gifts from members of the audience. When someone asked for her to read a letter out loud she replied, “I only read them out loud if they’re really, really funny or really, really sad.”

Some highlights of the setlist included “Hostage,” a new song that she wrote with Nick Valensi (the Strokes) for their upcoming album, and her playing “Lullaby” for the first time live and not “Fucking it up,” as she declared she was afraid of doing. She did an impromptu rendition of her old band’s tour bus song, “I Want To Pee On You,” after which she asked the audience members if they felt special. Sia instigated other moments of unplanned revelry, including inviting up two girls whom she thought were going to propose to each other (and when they didn’t, she asked them to leave the stage), starting multiple games of telephone (one of the messages was “Jake Gyllenhaal never called me back”) and trying to pimp out her keys player.

All photos by Annie Lesser
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