Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Little Machines Tour | Lights with X Ambassadors


I spent my Monday afternoon on a sidewalk in Cleveland outside the House of Blues. I arrived at 4 p.m. to find myself fifth in line at the venue's door, behind people that I would soon befriend. For three hours, we watched the growing line of anxious fans sprawl across the side of the building and waited for the doors to open just before 7 p.m. for the Cleveland stop of the Little Machines Tour, starring Canadian synthpop star Lights in support of her third studio album.

Lights's set was preceded by an opening performance from alt-rock group X Ambassadors. On stage, the band experimented with guitars, keyboards, and saxophone solos. Lead singer Sam Harris proudly announced the June 23 release date of their full-length debut album, and the band plugged two new tracks from the LP: "Lowlife" and "Naked." Only a few devoted Ambassador fans were speckled in the masses anxiously awaiting Lights, and for the most part, the band as a whole failed to garner much attention. The keyboard player, however, captured some glances; his limbs and head spasmed as if they were tied to string and controlled by a hyperactive puppeteer.

Lights's show was crafted for us fans. The entire audience block came alive as she opened the show with fan-favorite "Muscle Memory," and that energy didn't decay until the spotlights dimmed black after her encore performance of "Oil & Water." In between those two songs, the audience bounced along to songs from Little Machines, select highlights from Siberia, and a cover of the Cardigans's "Lovefool." She electrified the venue as she bounced from one end of the stage to the other with a reverberated microphone in hand. The connection between Lights and her audience intensified as we all sang every word to the likes of "Siberia" and "Up We Go."

In between songs, her bubbly personality shone through as she connected with audience through stories of her time in Cleveland; she befriended an Uber taxi driver, enjoyed some time at Westlake's Crocker Park shopping center, and appreciated Cleveland's... tap water. "Uh, your water is nice. Not the lake, obviously, but the tap water!" she joked, as she dug for compliments for city. Cleveland showed Lights nothing but love, and she promised to return for another show in good time. Does this mean that a follow-up to Little Machines (or an acoustic companion album à la Siberia Acoustic) will come sooner rather than later? Hopefully.

After the curtain closed on the main stage, fifty lucky fans donning yellow wristbands lined up in a hallway. With CD and vinyl copies of Little Machines in hand, we each took our turn meeting Lights one-on-one in a smaller ballroom intricately adorned with paintings and flashy light fixtures. One fan welled up as she walked towards Lights, receiving three hugs and lengthy chat. For some, this meet and greet was the fifth or sixth encounter with the songstress. For others, meeting her made the drive from Kentucky to Cleveland worthwhile. From my perspective, however, the concert and meet-up proved the immense talent and humble personality of Lights; she has officially earned herself a new super-fan.

Lights will be performing on select dates in Ontario, Canada through March 15. After a short break, she will hit the road again in April. Tickets and dates can be found at music.iamlights.com/tour/.

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