Review: Margaret Glaspy Makes the Fox Swoon

The 29-year-old songstress commands the stage with ease.

September 18, 2018

By Nathan Caddell / Photo: Mika Shapera

Not every singer-songwriter would elect to go on a tour that featured her taking the stage with a salmon-coloured guitar, a microphone and literally nothing else.

But, of course, not every singer-songwriter is Margaret Glaspy. Her first LP, Emotions and Math (2016), gained the California native notoriety on the indie rock scene and an EP this year only kept that momentum going as fans flocked to her powerful, unique voice and undeniably catchy choruses.

That meant a full house for Glaspy’s performance at the Fox Cabaret (Saturday, September 15, as part of Westward Music Festival).

But first, the audience was treated to Chicago duo Ohmme. And Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart made sure to give the audience a show, using thumping bass lines and amplifier-busting guitar riffs to accentuate their melodies.

Was it an odd choice to send out a solo act after Ohmme (and their drummer, who at one point crinkled bubble wrap into the microphone to add to the sound) obliterated the stage?

Maybe. Usually the opener wouldn’t upstage the main act in terms of sound volume, and that definitely happened here.

But Glaspy doesn’t need volume to get her point across, and the crowd in attendance obviously appreciated the intimate set she offered up.

Starting with the titular song from her 2016 effort, Glaspy, reading off a setlist that was placed on the floor, gave the crowd everything they wanted to hear. That meant standout tracks like “Pins and Needles” and “Situation”. And while those songs didn’t have the thumping drum lines that listeners were used to, Glaspy aptly pulled them off.

Glaspy

She then launched into a new record she “hasn’t really played.” The tracks sounded pretty well practiced, and there was no really need to modestly thank the audience for “being my guinea pigs.”

She got back to the meat of her repertoire with songs like “Memory Street” and “No Matter Who” that generated long ovations.

In her longest address to the crowd, Glaspy told a story about how, when she was growing up, her older sister controlled the music in their shared bedroom. “Sometimes it was great, sometimes it was shitty,” she noted, calling out Weezer and No Doubt as the former. It a lead-up to a cover of Lauryn Hill (“Ex-Factor”), who had conveniently played Deer Lake Park a night earlier and who’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill had featured prominently in Glaspy’s childhood home.

Then it was back to the hits, as Glaspy closed out the set with the rocking “You and I,” followed by the quieter, more emotional “Somebody to Anybody.”

She kept the modest act (okay, it’s definitely not an act) up, greeting the throng with “Aw shucks, guys” for her encore. She ended things with the affecting “You’re Smiling (But I Don’t Believe You)”.

We were, and she should have.

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