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NEW YORK CITY — The nightly phenomenon that is a Lights show glows more brightly than the dancing rays of the aurora borealis.
The singer’s We Were Here Tour kicked off in Seattle, Wash., last month and made its way to the East Coast, with a local stop in New York City at Irving Plaza on Monday, February 26.
Dedicated fans, determined to establish prime spots close to the stage, lined up outside the venue, hours before the doors opened at 7 pm, causing the line to wrap around the block.
Lights’ fellow Canadian mate David Charles Fischer, who goes by the stage name DCF, was the show’s opening act.
His relaxed, low tone was a blended hum of talking and singing, delivered over computer-generated electronic beats and his performance was occasionally sprinkled with dance moves.
DCF played singles from his debut LP, including “Sky Ferreira,” which was co-written and produced by Nathaniel Motte of 3OH!3 fame, and “Bring A Friend” that opened with Macklemore-style rapping.
He also paid homage to the lead actor in the 80s rom-com Say Anything with his song “John Cusack,” which included lyrics like “Look out your window. I’m John Cusack in the rain. Boom box, your song playing.”
Adorned with a vintage-looking ornamental jacket, he addressed his garment choice later in the set, explaining that he had rented a prince costume for the tour, but has already been confused for a cast member of Hamilton and the popular children’s cereal mascot Cap’n Crunch.
Also following their own distinct dress code was following openers Chase Atlantic, who were outfitted less formally, so much so that the lead singer decided to forego his shirt under his unbuttoned jean jacket.
The Australian trio performed a variety of hypnotic tunes like “Friends” from their 2015 EP Nostalgia and “Into It” from the first installment of their three-part album released last year.
Despite the reckless-rock vibe that Chase Atlantic exuded, there were a surprising amount of smooth jazz saxophone solos that rallied enthusiastic cheers from even the youngest audience members.
However, it was when headliner Lights took the stage that the fans’ roaring decibel levels soared sky-high.
She emerged on stage in front of a wall of rushing technicolor LED beams, her figure a sleek blacked-out silhouette.
As the lyrics to her sultry song “New Fears” filled the venue, she prowled to the front of the stage confidently revealing her flowing vixen-red hair, inspired by her Skin & Earth comic character Enaia Jin, who she now personifies.
She wore a boss, bombshell black cat-suit that accentuated her tattoo laden arms that were newly inked with multiple symbols from the comic series. The outfit was featured in her new music video for the gritty, anti-ballad “Savage,” which she played following “New Fears.”
In the background for many of her Skin & Earth songs, scenes from the comics were depicted behind her, colliding the fantasy world she created with reality.
To the delight of longtime fans, Lights also performed crowd favorites like “Second Go” off her 2009 debut album The Listening — which went certified platinum last year — and “Toes” off her 2011 album Siberia.
During the set, she even received a special “pizza” delivery on stage, only to find when opening the box that it contained a synthesizer, lending itself to the bubbly melodies of the next song she played, “Up We Go,” off her 2014 album Little Machines.
Throughout the night she made numerous wardrobe and stage changes, including bringing out a candle-covered piano to be played during her acoustic performance of “Banner.”
Lights spoke to the audience (some of whom devotedly come in cosplay as the characters from her comics) between songs and even joked that while she used to call NYC the city that never sleeps, since having her daughter Rocket Wild, she now affectionately tells her daughter it is the city where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are from.
After finishing her set with her surging anthem “Giants” and heading off stage, the crowd chanted for an encore and Lights took the stage once more, performing “We Were Here.”
She then asked for everyone to get out their lights — or, hilariously, their Tamagotchis — to wave in the air and ended the show with the resonating closing track off the Skin & Earth album, “Almost Had Me.”
Lights Discusses Her ‘Skin & Earth’ Comic Album Crossover
“It all starts here” is the opening lyric on Skin & Earth, the new album by Canadian electro-pop powerhouse Lights.
Lights — whose full name is Lights Poxleitner-Bokan — released the 14-track concept record last year and created an accompanying, and much-anticipated, six-issue comic series titled under the album’s same moniker.
Lights, in an interview with The Newtown Bee prior to her February 26 performance at Irving Plaza (see review), described how before even going into the studio to record the album she had a rough idea of the storyline she wanted to pursue.
Each song correlates to a chapter in the comics and chronicles the mystical tale of a woman struggling to find herself in the toxic, depressing environment she is living in. She meets a dark friend and as the story’s momentum builds, it becomes clear that there are inner and outer demons she must overcome in order to emerge on the other side stronger.
“I wanted to make a story that kind of shined a light on the fact that what we think makes us broken actually is part of our origin story,” said the entertainer. “It’s part of our power at the end of the day. I don’t think it should be seen as something bad, there is beauty in all of it. I wanted to tell that story.”
When she first went in the studio, however, she kept hush about the premise and focused primarily on creating songs that fit the vibe she had in mind.
“We had a lot of fun writing all these songs and by the time we had a few really good ones that was when I really told anyone I was working on this project — I told my label, my management team — and everyone was really excited, because once you have the songs it’s really a no-brainer,” she explained. “From there I just had to really figure out how to pull the project together.”
Having no technical comic book experience, besides being a major enthusiast of the medium, she quickly began absorbing as much knowledge on the process as possible by reading books, watching webinars and tutorials online, and reaching out to one of her favorite comic book writers, Brian K. Vaughan.
Originally, her hope was that he could write the project, but after speaking with him, he assured her that she was the best one that could do it and gave her pointers on how to layout a page.
Doing all the comic writing and art, she was a “one woman show,” she said. Through it all it was a dream project.
“It was a lot of research, but from the beginning of the story idea to delivering the last page, it was probably two years. I was delivering the last page of the last issue the day before it went to print and that was last December,” Lights said. “It was a process, but it was amazing.”
In addition to the comic element, Lights has brought the characters to life by transforming herself into the lead role of Enaia “En” Jin, dying her usually jet black hair a Little Mermaid intensity of red, and designing the male love interest Priest to depict her husband Beau Boken, lead singer of Blessthefall.
She also is committed to putting out a music video for every comic issue, and says she will be releasing the remaining video for one of the last three songs.
Creating her first comic and bringing her ideas to life has been such a rewarding process that she hopes it inspires others to achieve their goals, too.
“I hope people realize that they are capable of so much more than they even know. Having a vision is one thing, but actually putting in the time in and doing the work will make your dreams come true, and I hope people don’t dismiss their dreams just because they think they can’t do it,” she said earnestly.
Those who have read the comics and are still craving more will be happy to know Lights has created the Skin & Earth world on Instagram that unlocks portals to different areas in the comic. She anticipates adding new locations in the future.
As for the future of her character Enaia, Lights said coyly, “I don’t want to give too much away, but it is not the end of her story that’s for sure.”