Laufey•Adam Melchor•October 17, 2023•The Depot
Reviewed and Photographed by Logan Fang
Laufey’s “Bewitched” tour made its way to SLC last Wednesday with indie star Adam Melchor joining her for a sold-out performance at The Depot. While the venue itself was on the smaller-side, the main floor quickly filled up at the start of the night as audience members dashed to the front to get a better view of the stage. On a number of occasions, security guards had to remind eager teens to stay in line and walk.
Prior to the concert, I had never listened to Laufey’s music before, but judging by the sheer enthusiasm of the audience, I knew there was widespread appeal. While pressed up against the barricade, concert-goers whipped out pocket-sized cameras to take pictures with friends and photograph the stage. On the other side of the venue was a bar selling drumsticks and other hand-held food items that seemed to draw a crowd of its own. And despite the size of The Depot, I was surprised to see how many people crammed themselves on the main floor to watch the concert. The countless number of people in attendance made the experience feel all the more intimate and vibrant.
Indie-pop artist Adam Melchor began the night with a cover of the classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” His vocal range caught me off guard as he often broke into falsetto to sing the higher notes of the piece. While I knew him as primarily a folksy, indie artist, it was interesting to see this side of his musical persona. After finishing his rendition of the song, Adam introduced himself to the audience and talked about his number of visits to Salt Lake. He talked about his humble beginnings as a performer in New Jersey pizza parlors and how his growth as an artist has led him to perform in front of huge audiences like here in Salt Lake. Instead of rushing through his set, he took his time to share personal anecdotes behind the reason he wrote some of his songs.
At one point during his set, Adam talked about his romantic misfortunes and how he once gifted his girlfriend a film camera, only to have her break up with him the same week. He spoke about the time his ex-girlfriend called him after a tree fell on her car. Adam’s amusing little anecdotes lent greater depth to many of his tracks like “I Don’t Want To See You Cryin’ Anymore” in which he sings about his various breakups. In another story involving his parent’s divorce and an old rusty Chevy pickup, Adam recounted writing one of his top hits “Joyride.” Perched under a single spotlight, Adam’s unique ability to captivate the audience through his witty and light lyricism made the set an excellent way to begin the night. To top it all off, he ended with the charismatic fan favorite “Real Estate.”
As I made my way back into the photo pit, I could sense the palpable excitement for Laufey’s performance. Young fans sported vintage clothing, complete with pink laces and knee-high socks, as a nod to Laufey’s own classic attire. After singing along to Melchor’s songs, dehydrated fans eagerly chugged cups of water given to them by security while they waited for the show to resume. Now that the lights were dimming, a resounding cheer beckoned Laufey onto stage. The lights narrowed in on her as she began her opening song “Fragile,” a track from her debut album “Everything I Know About Love.” Laufey hovered under the spotlight for the next few songs, guitar firmly tucked in her arms.
I was instantly enamored by her blend of classical, jazz, and pop. Her work reminded me of something from Frank Sinatra or Chet Davis in both her songs’ lyrics and musicality. Her rich and soulful timbre is reminiscent of Bill Crosby with a modern twist.
Given her classical background having studied at Berklee and grown up around music, she demonstrated her skill as a classically trained musician, moving seamlessly from instrument to instrument. After opening her set with performances on the guitar, she then moved to her bulky cello where she played an extended solo, shuddering under her bow. During her multiple performances on various instruments, Laufey mentioned that Salt Lake City holds a special place in her heart because it’s where she first heard her lyrics sung back to her.
Much like Melchor, Laufey shared a couple of humorous anecdotes about some of her songs. In “Beautiful Stranger,” she talked about what it’s like to fall in love with someone you’ve only seen for a fleeting moment. In Laufey’s case, she stated that it was the experience of falling in love with a random stranger that prompted her to write “Beautiful Stranger”. And in typical Laufey-fashion, the song is a serene ballad featuring delicate vocal bridges and a lullaby-like feel. Like many of her pieces, this track is easy-listening at its finest, melding classical and jazz.
Now moving to the piano, Laufey performed “Nocturne,” a selection from her latest album “Bewitched.” After the song, she remarked that composing the piece “Nocturne” was a turning point in her musical journey as it signified her first step towards composing her own classical music. She encouraged the young artists in the crowd to express themselves without regard for what other people think.
For the final song in the set before the encore, Laufey split the audience in half and instructed each half of the venue to sing different parts of her hit “Lovesick” with her. For her encore however, she performed the melancholy yet uplifting song “Letter to my 13 year old self.” The song spoke about the self-doubt that plagued her as a teenager and her experience of growing up as someone who looked different than those around her. In a way though, this song was more than just an ode to her younger self, but a reflection of how she’s pioneered in the music industry.
As she’s climbed Spotify jazz charts, she’s redefined and revived the classical/jazz scene. Hence, in light of all the hesitation she’s felt throughout her career, she’s cultivated a unique identity as a musically dextrous artist capable of appealing to all audience