Weekender: Nothing could ever stop Samia from showing up

Samia (left), Savannah (top right) and a guitarist (bottom right) perform at the Brighton Music Hall in Boston. Photo taken by Elizabeth Strileckis, collage edited by Jack Clohisy. Elizabeth Strileckis

In true indie-pop concert fashion, college students lined up outside of the Brighton Music Hall on Oct. 1 to get a glimpse of one of their Spotify discoveries first seen in person when Samia Najimy Finnerty, known mononymously as Samia, traveled to Boston for her fall tour.

As concert-goers waited in line for their vaccination cards to be checked, it was hard not to think about how long fans had to go without seeing their favorite artists perform. Samia released her debut studio album “The Baby” (2020) during quarantine, so performing her major hits such as “Big Wheel” (2020) and “Django” (2018) live was a new experience. 

The cool autumn night reminded fans that as the seasons change, the summertime bangers are folded away and the tearjerkers are taken out for the winter. Opening act Savannah Conley made this clear during her set, informing the audience that the music would get progressively sadder during her setlist.

Don’t be mistaken — although Samia and Conley produce music under seemingly pop pretenses, Conley wouldn’t describe her music that way.

“I love writing what I feel and things that happen to me and happen to my friends … instead of my diary, I write songs, and then whatever genre they fall into, that’s what they fall into,” Conley said in an interview with the Daily.

Conley also said touring with Samia has been a great experience.

“Sam’s the best … We have a lot of fun together,” Conley said. “There’s a lot of laughing, a lot of crying, a lot of all the things.”

All these emotions were demonstrated well once Samia hit the stage, bouncing up and down during the highs of tracks such as “Fit N Full” (2020) and dropping to the floor during “Is There Something in the Movies?” (2020).

When Conley reached her track “Same Old Eyes” (2018), she told the audience a story about her grandmother who called her up and asked her, “You good?” after hearing the sad nature of the song. Conley connected well with the audience over the course of her set, chatting between tracks with fans about The Fairy Shop, her favorite spot in Boston to stop on tour, and about her zodiac sign. Don’t ask her about her Hogwarts house, though, as one brave fan did. She joked that she wasn’t ready to get that personal with the crowd.

Conley closed her set thanking Samia for the opportunity to tour with her. Grateful to be friends before the music, Conley explained that she’s glad to have people such as Samia in her orbit.

“This has been my favorite show of the tour, and that’s not bullshit … I hope people were connecting,” Conley said. “It felt like they were, and that’s what I love.”

Once Samia took the stage, the crowd, already invigorated by Conley‘s introduction, cheered. Samia laughed in disbelief of the size of the crowd all in attendance to see her. She seemed bewildered and grateful that so many people are singing along to her songs, especially considering that this is her first tour. After her first few opening tracks, Samia brought Conley back out to perform Samia’s recent release “As You Are” off her newest EP “Scout.” The song, as Samia described, is about unconditional love, and as Samia and Conley attempted not to laugh at one another while singing, the bond Samia, Conley and the band shared together on stage was palpable.

During a brief intermission, Samia left the stage while her bandmates broke out a rendition of Bobby Vinton’s “Mr. Lonely” (1962). Citing the depths of quarantine as their inspiration for the interlude, the bandmates got a few laughs from the crowd before Samia returned to the stage.

Samia took a moment to speak to her bandmates, and one told the audience that he recently lost a tooth while biking. One courageous fan screamed back, “I’ll be your new tooth!” The energy in the room was high, and the band took its position once again as the setlist resumed.

Floating around stage in a torn-up yellow dress, Samia tiptoed across the stage like a ballerina, whipped her ponytail to and fro with guitar slashes and exuded a lightness of being that acted as a remedy to all the isolation both her and her fans experienced over the past year. In performing a concert full of such excitement and fun in a time where that seemed impossible, Samia provided a night of escapism and joy to her fans.

As the night concluded, Samia turned the venue into a workout session as she dropped to all fours and began to jump up and down in front of the crowd. The energy was reciprocated as fans at the barricade began to jump up and down to match the enthusiasm and sheer pleasure Samia got from performing on stage.

Between the last few tracks, a fan screamed out “She looks so pretty,” to which Samia gushed, responding, “You look so pretty, shut up.” The connection was there between the act and audience, and after an electrifying cover of Heart’s hit single “Barracuda” (1977), Samia exited the stage seemingly finished. However, the audience refused to leave, so Samia and the band ran back on stage to complete the ultimate encore. 

Samia performed “21” (2018) to round out a spectacular evening filled with, as Conley alluded to, laughing, crying and “all of the things” that true friends share with one another. After this concert, it felt like hundreds of new friendships were formed between Samia and her fans during the Boston leg of the tour.

As her tour nears its end, it’ll be hard to forget all the memories Samia bestowed upon the Brighton Music Hall concert-goers last Friday night. It’ll take time before venues no longer require a vaccination status or a mask mandate, but for one night during the pandemic, Samia took her fans to a place of warmth, resilience and full-out jamming.