All photos by Katherine Gaines
New Zealand musician Ladyhawke returned to Washington on Saturday to play U Street Music Hall in support of her new album Wild Things. It’s a much breezier, happier album than her previous work Anxiety (2008). But, that doesn’t mean that the artist doesn’t get anxious performing in front of crowds.
“That’s always been my main anxiety – the people in the room,” Ladyhawke told BYT in an interview ahead of her concert on Saturday. “That’s my massive stress – thinking that these people in the room are judging me. And, this time around, I’ve been able to think a little bit more clearly about that. I’ve been able to think “Well, no. They’re here to enjoy a show,” and I want to give them that. I want to give them their money’s worth – for starters.”
Ladyhawke did deliver their money’s worth. Although many in the crowd seemed eager for her new material released just a few weeks ago, she artfully layered thin layers of her new songs in between meatier sections of previous material, and delivering it all with clear, confident vocals.
“I just finished my UK tour. That was my first proper tour without drinking,” Ladyhawke told BYT. Over the past year, the singer gave up drinking. “It’s crazy in just the difference it makes turning up to sound check without a hangover. Since I’ve stopped drinking I’m way better at singing. I can project my voice better. I can actually walk on stage and make eye contact with the audience, which I never used to know how to do in the past. So, it’s made a huge difference.”
The audience could hear the difference in the vocals. And, although Ladyhawke still limited eye contact and kept her set mostly free of between-song banter (except for shy and sincere “thank-you”s throughout the show), the singer stayed after her concert and met with each fan who wanted to approach her. This included a motley arrangement of groups of gay men, parents with kids, teenagers from the suburbs, and one drag queen. Ladyhawke made sure that each fan got their money’s worth.