LIVE REVIEW: EMA + Mas Ysa + Safeword @ The Independent, SF 7/2/14
EMA (Erika M. Anderson) walked on stage with a large potted plant and proceeded to set it down behind where she would be standing. Maybe it was a counter to the cyberpunk ethos that peppers her latest work. Or maybe it was just a friend. Regardless, EMA launched into “Satellites” after its electric violin intro and captured The Independent’s audience for the rest of the night.
Playing newer songs like “Satellite” from this year’s The Future’s Void as well as earlier material from her first album, Past Life Martyred Saints, EMA put her emotions out front, crying at the end of one song and walking off stage for a few minutes. It was an intense performance from beginning to end.
Musical changes kept the set dynamic even through the downtempo songs. A mix of guitars, electric violin, and keyboard (and, of course, drums) created a sonic backdrop from eerie to soft to pure guitar noise. While not really danceable, the crowd swayed to the tunes. EMA often walked right up to the edge of the stage and leaned into the audience, bringing an intimacy not often present on larger stages.
First opener Safeword, an Oakland duo playing bass and drums, surprised the audience with its intensity. People quickly moved in to the two musicians (set up on the floor) to hear their gritty and surprisingly full sound.
Following Safeword, Mas Ysa (Thomas Aresenault) used keyboards, electronics, and heavily processed voice for a set that ranged from emotional love songs to danceable tunes. Barefoot and in constant motion, it was an infectious performance.
Check out a full photo gallery of EMA’s emotional SF performance HERE!