Zola Jesus summoned a group huddle for her performance, setting up her sampler on the floor. During her second solo Zola Jesus show ever, Nika Roza also climbed the stage a couple times, enabling more people to see the diminutive siren. Her white skin looked good shot in tungsten. She was tiny. One girl in the audience motioned of picking her up like a snack and popping Roza in her mouth. Cute, a bit hunched over, messy black hair, she bellowed and swooned between crouching at her sampler to cue beats for the next song. I’d like to describe it as goth r&b opera. She just walked off the Beetlejuice set singing whoa whoa like a Dreamgirl. Her simple set-up gave full attention to the raw, powerful set of pipes in that mouth. The texture of her voice against the music was concrete and unpolished in the best sense possible.
Pocahaunted sailed in from the islands of Neverneverland where they feed alligators clocks and sprinkle themselves with trippy, aphrodisiac fairy dust, fight pirates and smash vegan cake in one another’s faces, probably. They seem happy, a bit turned on, playing grungy dub. A psychedelic noise sequence during the second to last song served as a sweet ruptured climax to Pocahaunted’s mellow build. Diva Dompe’s lace bodytard could have been from American Apparel or a Hollywood sex shop—where fashion seeks inspiration this season. Wearing it, she blended into her bass—her long thinness like an extra string that got loose from its instrument.
A few days earlier at the Smell, Nika Roza joined Freddy Rupert at his Former Ghosts performance. You’ll find her haunting echo chambers of heartbreak with him on his album Fleurs, which she contributed vocals to all the way from Wisconsin. This was their first time playing live together. Rupert delivers his own unique one-man show. In his cardigan he looks like he’s from Pleasantville. Live together, Rupert and Roza take Former Ghosts to another level by expressing their realness at the same time. It becomes less about Rupert’s catharsis and more about the interplay of textures.
—Daiana Feuer (words & photos)
Speaking of textures, L.A. Record’s own Paul Rodriguez directed the video for Former Ghost’s “Flowers.”
And here is L.A. Record’s interview with Zola Jesus.
And more photos from the show.