Arlo Parks fostered connection at a sold-out Union Transfer - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Friday night was the second to last “My Soft Machine” North American tour date at Union Transfer for Arlo Parks. The tightly scheduled, month-long tour took Arlo and opener Chloe George all over, from Oakland to Nashville to D.C., and even two Canadian dates. And in Philly, like many of the cities along the way, fans sold out the venue.

Chloe George was outright giddy throughout her set. Her wide grin and sparkle behind her eyes lit up Union Transfer. It was George’s first tour. When she looked out up and across the crowd, and waved back to specific (but random) people in the crowd, it felt like she was memorizing people’s faces while she scanned.There was a soft glow about her, radiating out, captivating the crowd as their heads followed her up and down the stage like a tennis match.

Midway through the set she shared some of her story: when she was younger she didn’t think she was “allowed” to make music, so she would just do covers and make them a little different. For example, an airy, ballad version of “Heart of Glass” by Blondie that she shared on the Union Transfer stage. Chills-inducing, the bareness of her rippling vocals and piano chord progressions gave the song a whole new life. Joining her on tour was bandmate guitarist/keys Mika.

As it tends to go, those who get hurt the most are usually the kindest. This broad belief holds true in George’s music. Amidst heartbreak and anxious attachment style songs, like “Runaway Blue” early in the set, George left the impression that her kindness was unshakable, which made her kneeling performance of “Somebody Else” even more heartbreaking.

Between sets, a tall reel-to-reel analog recorder was rolled onto stage between acts, it blinked and glowed, wires criss-crossed from one port to another.

Arlo’s set hadjust barely gotten off the ground when she rallied the chill crowd to sing loudly along with her to “Caroline.” The whole concert hall filled with the song’s lyrics, climaxing with Arlo jumping off the stage and climbing onto a barricade step to be closer to the crowd. Pops of explosive energy had the audience on their toes during the night. Arlo often relished in these explosions with Sam Harding (keys/bass/vocals) and Dani Diodato (guitar/vocals) in the interludes and melodies they arrived in, like “Devotion” off My Soft Machine. Bewitching vocals aside, Arlo Parks weaves great detail, reflection and longing into her lyrics.

Still working through her own machinations, Arlo would intro songs like footnotes, or set intentions. Unintentionally charming, she owned up to most of them being quite depressing, minus maybe “Too Good” off Collapsed in Sunbeams. It’s the “probably only song you can dance to,” she said with a faint laugh.

Other intros were direct, purposeful. Leading into “Black Dog,” Arlo Parks talked with the house lights softly up about depressive spirals, dedicating the song to anyone in UT having a hard time, reassuring them that something will change.

The whole night felt like connection. That tangible feeling possibly had something to do with “Jasmine,” Arlo’s rendition of Jai Paul’s track by the same name, which made its “Soft Machine” Tour debut Friday night in Union Transfer. Arlo’s “Jasmine” had the band’s gentle but intricate approach to it, with Arlo bringing the lyrics up to the front. It was in fact, the first time the band had played it on tour ever. It’s nice to feel special, like “right time, right place” kind of special, and the gravity of that defined Friday night at Union Transfer with Arlo Parks.

Arlo Parks
  • Bruiseless
  • Weightless
  • Blades
  • Caroline
  • Impurities
  • I'm Sorry
  • Eugene
  • Dou Rose
  • Pegasus
  • Hurt
  • Too Good
  • Black Dog
  • Purple Phase
  • Jasmine
  • Hope
  • Sophie
  • Devotion
  • Softly
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