Photography by Carys Hirawady
By Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator
Artist: Arlo Parks
Venue: Brighton Music Hall
When: Saturday, September 25th
A long line sprawled out past Brighton Music Hall on Saturday night with fans eagerly waiting to see Arlo Parks’ first-ever appearance in Boston. The sold-out show was stop number three of the London-based artist’s debut U.S. Tour. The performance was all-ages and the crowd gathered outside reflected that. There were old couples holding hands, pre-teens, and college-aged students - mostly female and many openly queer like Arlo herself.
As the people in line first started to show their vaccine cards and IDs to be allowed entry, Parks slipped out of her tour bus, parked just outside the venue. Cutting through a gap in the line just within a few feet of the spot I was standing in, she popped into a bubble tea shop for a pre-show treat, so seamlessly that only a few fans noticed.
When Arlo made her debut in the venue, though, it was a different story as the crowd cheered with excitement. The stage decor matched the warm, sunshiny aesthetic of her Collapsed In Sun Beams tour posters and the album itself. Lights standing up on the stage and amps were wrapped around with artificial yellow flowers, a background curtain with her name and sunflowers draped along the back, and a few live plants also filled the space.
ARLO’S JOYFUL STAGE PRESENCE
At first, the band - a bassist, guitarist, drummer, and keyboard player - took the stage without Arlo. Beginning to play the instrumental tune of “Hurt,” anticipation was through the roof for Arlo’s debut. When she hopped up the steps, her huge smile said it all. “Hello, how are you doing?” she shyly asked the crowd before breaking into the lyrics of “Hurt.”
From one song to the next, a wave of positivity washed over the crowd as Arlo joyfully danced around the stage and shared her angelic voice. In songs like “Cola,” the lyrics were filled with small anecdotal details, but I could hear people singing along, having memorized every word.
Whether it was running across the stage holding out her microphone for the crowd to sing along or prompting everyone to clap, Arlo looked to the crowd for support and fans happily delivered it. Throughout the show, she repeatedly thanked the crowd for “bringing the energy.” “It’s my first time in Boston and your welcome is warmer than expected - thank you.”
MAKING SURE HER BAND GOT A CHANCE TO SHINE
Often at concerts, especially for primarily solo artists like Arlo, the band can kind of slip away into the background. But Parks made sure that each member of her band had plenty of opportunities to shine. For “Cola,” she announced a dance break and proudly grooved out to the bass. Later, she made sure to dance along to the guitar solos on “Just Go” and showed the drums her appreciation on “Too Cool,” stomping her feet in time.
A POETRY BREAK
After a string of high-energy songs, she announced that it was time for a poetry break. The band drew back, the crowd went silent, and a sole spotlight shone on Arlo as she earnestly recited the poem that introduces her recently released album Collapsed In Sunbeams. The moment was beautiful and unlike anything I have ever experienced at a concert. Parks used the poem as a transition in a way, going on to sing some of her songs with more serious subject matters. “Eugene,” Black Dog” and “Sophie” were even more touching in person as she once again reminded the audience of her incredible songwriting talent.
A HOPE-FILLED ENDING
12 songs in, Arlo announced that she only had one left to play, “Super Sad Generation.” Her angelic vocals were on full display as she sang the somewhat depressing lyrics. It ended with another killer guitar solo that Arlo proudly stomped around the stage to before waving goodbye and slipping away with the rest of the band.
The crowd quickly broke into a chant, repeating “Arlo,” and eventually she and her band made their way back on stage. “You asked, and we couldn’t resist,” she said before introducing her encore song “Hope.”
“You're not alone like you think you are. We all have scars, I know it's hard. You're not alone, you're not alone” she repeated for the chorus, the hope-filled song the perfect way to wrap up the night.