It is a rare sight to see a young artist brought to tears on stage and say, “this is one of the greatest nights of my life,” and to truly believe her. Samia sold out the Paradise Rock Club in Boston on Jan. 25. The musical lovechild of Phoebe Bridgers and Taylor Swift (with a hint of Mazzy Star), Samia’s unusual and charming performance proves her promise as a new talent.
Even more masterful and in control of her sound live than on her studio recordings, the coolness and clarity of Samia’s vocals matched the chilly January evening. Samia grew up in New York City, where she set the roots for her Indie rock career. She recently released an EP titled “Scout,” but her success reigns with her 2020 album “The Baby.” Samia’s music is melancholy but edgy, and her performance only heightens her work.
In studio recordings, Samia appears passive and gentle, but her eclectic performance style illuminates the hilarity of her character and artistic vision. She self-deprecates in her lyrics and in her commentary on stage. After she performed her fun, buoyant song “Limbo Bitch,” which stands out from her more soulful and depressing music, she created comic tension before addressing the audience. “That song is about how you can limbo, bitch,” she added with dry humor to point out the simpler nature of that song, which makes it even more meaningful for her audience.
“I could’ve been a dancer,” Samia stated with sarcasm after she twirled around like a whimsical little girl in ballet class during her band member’s guitar solo. The intense emotions of her songs flow through her body and “jazz hands” that she told the audience she always does with her bandmates on stage when they get nervous. The splendor of Samia’s performance laid in her vulnerability and authenticity. She did not take herself too seriously and remained honest with herself and her audience.
Samia wore animal print and a skirt a little bit longer than the biker shorts she had on underneath. The ethos of the concert and Samia’s stage presence were reminiscent of both a ‘90s dive bar performance and a children’s dance party on a playground. Samia’s irreverence to herself and the glamour of her music cultivated a sense of safety, humility and excitement for her fans.
But Samia is not traditionally “cool” — nor does she want to be. She is still the shy, somewhat weird girl she was in Brooklyn before she gained fame. She is in touch with her inner child, and her lyrics soothe our inner children. Samia slowed down the upbeat show with her performance of “Welcome to Eden,” a song full of insightful biblical allusion, masterful lyricism and chilling vocals. The audience seemed to take a break and lean on one another as they soaked in the intensity of the song. The room shivered a bit when she sang, “And so I’m talking about drugs and their adverse effects/ Like people do when they’ve lost a friend/ But I think it was me and not the drugs in the end/ ‘Cause God knows I have lost myself a veritable few of them.” Her music is heart-wrenching, relatable, sorrowful and danceable. The playful ballet Samia randomly breaks into on stage only elevates the emotional intensity of the musical experience.
The opener, Annie DiRusso, brought even more wonder to the stage. In fact, DiRusso’s performance was dangerously close to being the best of the evening. Samia’s choice of opener delivers— and arguably reaches — equal levels of excellence as the main act. DiRusso’s cover of the song “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & the Shondells was electric. At the end of the concert, Samia brought DiRusso back onto the stage to perform a duet of the song “Barracuda” by Heart. Samia resorted back to her playful dance moves which DiRusso funnily tried to copy, appearing awkward yet endearing, and so admirable of Samia. The love between Samia and her group of performers was evident and contagious.
Before the encore with DiRusso, Samia performed her popular song “Is There Something in the Movies?” The song is sad and soulful. Her live rendition brought herself to tears and most definitely a few audience members. A folkie at heart, Samia grounded herself and the audience with her Phoebe Bridgers-esque lyrics in the song. Afterwards, she sat down on the ground, physically affected by the song. Samia sang, “I only write songs about things that I’m scared of/ So here, now you’re deathless in art.” She immortalized her vulnerability in her lyricism and performance, creating a whimsical experience for her audience. Left numb and torn open, her audience became deathless in their consumption of Samia’s art.