Tess Parks Plays a Low-Key Sunday Show at Urban Spree

   I wouldn’t call Tess Parks’ show last Sunday, November 18th, quiet. No, the Canadian songstress’ gruff, enchanting voice was definitely full force and her backing band skillfully emitted that droning distorted sound so particular to shoegazey psychedelia. Nor would I call it lazy; Parks constantly switched instruments during the set and her lack of audience interaction felt closer to understated and concentrated than dismissive.

Maybe the best word to describe my mixed feelings about the performance is that it was “low-key”, “no-frills”?
As a disclaimer, I have to point out that I was coming down from several quite high-energy shows in a row at Puschenfest that weekend. First world problem? Certainly, but I’m mentioning it to help the reader understand that the show perhaps wasn’t completely at fault for seeming a little…flat.

The setting and choice of venue could have also been to blame. Don’t get me wrong, Urban Spree is wonderful, but seems a lot better suited to performers like the openers, Voodoo Beach, for example; acts that are grittier, less well known, and more in line with the venue’s grungy aesthetic.

I do not mean this with disrespect to either of the two acts. Voodoo Beach are a Berlin-based emerging-talent to watch for sure; their rougher, more energetic sound just seems better suited to the smaller, understated space and held my attention during their short set.

“the songs were dark and dreamy just like on the album and wonderfully performed”

Tess Parks has those dark, rough edges in her own way but more on the dreamy, zoned out end of the spectrum. This, coupled with her growing notoriety made it so that I really didn’t feel the need to be squeezed between five immobile spectators, barely able to see her on the low stage, watching unchanging dark red lights around the band, while songs were poured into one another unceremoniously. The choice not to address the audience, except for a few comments on the newer songs towards the end and a strange statement about pretending to come back for an encore (which she didn’t), coupled with the completely unchanging decor lost my attention a little bit I will admit. I even heard someone next to me say that it all felt “so silent”.

Tess Parks has those dark, rough edges in her own way but more on the dreamy, zoned out end of the spectrum.

Again, the songs were dark and dreamy just like on the album and wonderfully performed, but I thought the very understated show could have used a little extra…well…showmanship, at leasts some trippy lights or something, or a more spacious room.

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In fact, Tess Parks has another show promoting her newest eponymous album, a collaboration with Anton Newcombe,  Tess Parks & Newcombe. The gig will take place at Lido, in which the larger room, side-couches, higher stage, and bigger production will, in my opinion, be a much better fit for an act of this nature.
So for those who were unable to grab a spot before the gig sold out, another is soon to come April 10th of next year. Get your ticket!

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