This past week, I flew up to NYC to catch one of my favorite singer/songwriters perform live at my favorite live music venue – the incomparable Zola Jesus at Le Poisson Rouge (LPR) on Bleecker Street. I’ve been a fan of hers since watching her perform live on the popular British music television show Later…With Jools Holland back in 2014 (Holland was a founding member of the band Squeeze).
A former opera singer(*), Nika Roza Danilova, began creating her dark pop with just drum machines, keyboards, and her singular voice; her debut studio album as Zola Jesus, the lo-fi The Spoils, was released in 2009. Her subsequent albums and EPs have solidified her gloomy, atmospheric sound, a complex brew that borrows elements from baroque pop and 1980s post-punk alike.
Celebrating its 15th Anniversary this year, the iconic music venue and multimedia art cabaret (Le) Poisson Rouge, in the heart of Greenwich Village on the former site of the historic Village Gate, is already legendary for its unique and eclectic synthesis of popular and creative culture in emerging music, theatre, film and fine art. Oh, and its sound system(*)? It’s as good as it gets for a venue of that size.
Having your little brother running things at LPR (and being an, ahem, award-winning photographer) makes getting a photographer pass a piece of cake. And as far as the show was concerned, Zola Jesus did not disappoint…and that voice of hers(!) It was a remarkable show. Nuff said. Give her a listen on Spotify and listen to her live on her 2020 album Live at Roadburn 2018. You can thank me afterwards…