Marika Hackman plays a cunning, astonishingly chill set at Boot & Saddle
Marika Hackman is an alchemist, pulling enigmatic harmonies from thin air and weaving them into a song. Having discarded sheet music at an early age to master drums, guitar, bass, and vocals by ear, Hackman seems to conjure plaintive melodies and liquid guitar riffs from another dimension.
Hackman played songs from albums new (Any Human Friend) and old (We Slept at Last and I’m Not Your Man) at Boot & Saddle on Monday, October 14th. The literal too-cool-for-school British singer songwriter cooed nostalgic lyrics from “Wanderlust”: “Did I make her laugh, was it just pretend?/Was she being kind?” and an ode to her best friend, “Gina’s World”: “And she’ll be at your house, with my tears in her mouth.”
Hackman is astonishingly chill. With feet planted parallel and wielding an electric guitar, she sang about masturbation as a portal to inner knowing with a resigned, Lana Del Rey-esque tone. “When I’m alone, it’s automatic, oh / I dig for life in the isle of my thighs,” she reflects in “hand solo.” Coupled with a wry delivery, the disarming sardonicism in Hackman’s lyrics render her songs about female attraction uniquely honest and free of the patriarchal objectification so often handcuffed to this exploration. Her setlist on Monday included “Boyfriend,” which manipulates the “just friends” trope contrived for patriarchal delusion to divulge that she’s done playing nice. “It’s fine ’cause I am just a girl / It doesn’t count / He knows a woman needs a man to make her shout.” You might even call her a cunning linguist. Though Hackman’s expression is deadpan, we know she’s getting the last laugh when it comes clueless men who are bad in bed.
The opener and Los Angeles-based all-girl punk quartet, Girl Friday, accompanied Hackman on stage to play songs with layered harmonies and full-fledged instrumentals such as “i’m not where you are” and “My Lover Cindy.” Like Hakcman, Girl Friday seems more interested in writing songs that are sensitive and perceptive than following genre conventions. Together, this female powerhouse was exactly the sort of ensemble you’d supplicate to punch you in the face.
Any Human Friend is out now, along with a recently released acoustic EP of the album, via Sub Pop Records.