As we collectively nosedive into 2024, it still feels appropriate to kick off discussions about live music with the disclaimer that the last few years have been rough for touring musicians. It’s sad – sad that there’s still so much work to do, sad that the struggles indie musicians face only seem to be getting worse, and sad that any progress that is made feels like it’s balanced on the tip of a needle, awaiting that one bad day that can topple the whole thing. But perseverance has us glued to the tip of that needle, and musicians like Laetitia Tamko, AKA Vagabon, are doing everything they can to dispel that sadness and replace it with that oh-so-elusive feeling called happiness.
Vagabon didn’t have a chance to tour on a major scale behind her self-titled sophomore album, so this is the first time she’s been able to perform some of her songs in front of adoring audiences. And adoring the audience at Underground Arts was on Friday night, October 27th. After a gorgeous rendition of “Water Me Down,” the crowd exploded into raucous applause that caught everyone off guard, and Laetitia remarked that, due to the lack of touring, she wasn’t sure how well those songs had been received, but the reaction told her everything.
Effortlessly bouncing between the indie rock leanings of her debut album and the more pop-oriented sounds of subsequent releases (including her new album Sorry I Haven’t Called), there was no shortage of happiness both on and off-stage.
Whether it be on ethereal songs like “Can I Talk My Shit” or the more groove-oriented “Carpenter,” Vagabon’s voice permeated the venue and imbued it with a sense of calm, as if to reassure us all that even if the lyrical content might be a bit of a downer, it’s ok to dance, it’s ok to be happy. Catharsis – for us and them. To come back out, hit the road, and see so many smiling faces from city to city has to be cathartic. It certainly was for those of us watching, witnessing, and singing along.
So, happy I was. I was happy to be back at Underground Arts for my first show since before the pandemic. Happy to witness people come out and support independent music. Happy to hear the cheers and chants of an audience that loves the musician and music equally. Happy to close my eyes and be serenaded and swept away.