Lissie Turns Up the Heat, Fights Hunger at Webster Hall

By Erica Gonzales

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On the night of Monday, November 25th, shivering fans left the thirty-degree air and bitterness outside the doors of Webster Hall to see Lissie, a sprouting indie-rock talent from Illinois.

Upon entry, attendees were greeted by representatives of the Imagine There’s No Hunger, a campaign by WhyHunger, an organization fighting world hunger that Lissie and Hard Rock have collaborated with.

The reps encouraged individuals to take pictures in front of a Step and Repeat and post them with the hashtag, #ImagineNoHunger to spread word.  Upon Lissie’s request, some audience members donated canned goods or $10.

 

The crowd settled into the Grand Ballroom, where opening act, singer-songwriter Chase Cohl, kept things warm and cozy with a soft voice and acoustic guitar. She sweetly serenaded, with a voice and style hauntingly similar to Ingrid Michaelson’s or Regina Spektor’s.

 

The Kopecky Family band, on a North American tour with Lissie, followed, and proved to be as quirky and fun as their name suggests.

 

They are an indie-folk six-man band (actually five men and one woman) from Nashville, with a whole lot of bounce and musical versatility. Lead singer Gabe Simon switched off from his guitar to a trombone; cellist (yes, they have a cellist!) Markus Midkiff jumped from cello, to trombone, to percussion; vocalist Kelsey Kopecky alternated keys, percussion, and bass guitar.

With interesting folk rhythms and whistling interludes, they kept the crowd warmly excited with their southern charm.

Lissie took the stage to intro of “Teach Me How to Dougie,” prefacing a fun night, and made a quick turnaround to open with “Bully”, from her 2010 studio album “Catching a Tiger.”

From the start of the performance, she shows off her strong, cheeky stage persona with her hair flipping and aggressive electric guitar strumming.  She is a hardcore blonde in blue jeans.  Her raspy voice is like Stevie Nicks’, and often her overall sound seems like Fleetwood Mac’s, especially on the song “Further Away.”  Lissie’s indie rock music catches slight tinges of blues and even country, which could be effects of her Rock Island, Illinois upbringing.

Lissie highlighted songs from her latest album, “Back to Forever” dropped in early October, with performances including “Sleepwalking,” “Love in the City,” “Shameless”, and “They All Want You.”  “I Don’t Wanna Go to Work,” was a relatable favorite that Monday night; audience members held up their glasses instead of cellphones, protesting to put their drinks down and prepare for the following morning.

She added an unexpected, rock rendition of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” which the crowd went wild over.

The audience itself surprisingly consisted of, very simply put, thirty-year-old hipsters.  But that didn’t stop them from calling out “I LOVE YOU!” and reacting fanatically when their favorite songs played.  After Lissie ended with “In Sleep,” they stayed and shouted for an encore — regardless of getting up for work the next day.

Lissie soothed the crowd with “Oh Mississippi,” her nostalgic, tender lullaby-like ballad of missing her hometown, near the Mississippi River.

Her most famous song, a viral cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” was a perfect, and very telling finale song choice that reflected the good vibes at her show, and the good charity she’d spread from it.

Erica Gonzales is a staff writer. Email her at music@nyunews.com.

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