all words: Robb Scott
all amazing photos: Jeff Martin
Entering the show, I was expecting much of the same glam-rock/glitter pop that is Marina and the Diamonds… Can’t imagine where I may have gotten that idea from. Instead, I was presented with an unfortunate attempt at grunge and a failed stage performance. Echoing the sentiments of other fans around me, Marina, in her black velvet and disheveled hair, resembled more Lady Gaga a la ‘Beautiful, Dirty, Rich‘ than wood nymph with a beautiful voice.
The opener, Young The Giant, provided a very ‘spirited’ performance. Frontman Sameer Gadhia took the reins and kept things comical–jiving, bumping, and taking swigs from his bottle of beer between songs. I have to make note that the guy sure does know his way around a tambourine, not to mention a gourd maraca. Although the quintet wasn’t bad–they actually provided a pretty solid set–they did little to make themselves memorable. The melodies they produced were akin to many of the acts seen pre-Vampire Weekend (i.e. Rooney, The Killers, The Raconteurs). Music moves forward, and the Newport Beach crew seemed a bit left behind. Despite the assertion, I highly suggest downloading their tracks “12 Fingers” and “Street Walker.”
When Marina took the stage, the initial reaction of many, myself included, was “Oh, I didn’t realize I’d bought tickets to a Monster Ball pre-party.” The woman before us resembled little of what the Marina from her album art and videos would have us come to believe. Chalk it up to a search for artist identity, or just a ill-consulted choice in wardrobe, but those ink black lips let me very confused.
The audience, though singing along and bopping to the beats, didn’t reach the level of excitement usually felt during shows at 930 Club. Despite Marina and her band’s numerous acts of desperation to instill some sort of excitement from the crowd, the audience remained mostly contained. It all felt much like a band performing a high school prom–people awkwardly dancing, out of politeness (or because of the booze), not for the sake of the music.
Marina as a talent is quite exceptional, however her stage presence came off as simply regurgitated elements of other acts (Evanescence, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha–yes, I went there). To her credit, if her music reflected the toughness, though forced, and grit that she performed with on stage, I would bite my tongue, but this just isn’t the case. Marina, you left me feeling as if I stepped from a Pretty Reckless show, not a good look.
The highlight of the show, I use that word lightly, was Marina showcasing her piano playing talent. Her delicate voice truly does shine when not bogged down by the intense instrumentation. If only she didn’t make attempts at Gaga-esque pianogasms; the throat screams don’t really work for her. Marina’s cover of 3OH!3’s ‘Starstruckk‘ was interesting; something about hearing her sing “Tight Jeans, Double Ds make your meat go…” was, honestly, hilariously awkward.
Better luck next time Marina Diamandis; a bit of advice from a disappointed fan… focus on the music, too much focus on being edgy leaves you looking carbon copied and unoriginal.