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“Wow, you’re so sexy, goddamn!”
That was one of many unfiltered yelps from a packed Troubadour floor on Wednesday night, the sentiment directed squarely at 25-year-old singer Lana Del Rey and voiced by a zealous fan — female, as it turned out.
If you haven’t heard already, Del Rey is the next big thing, to use an appropriately retro term. She’s gorgeous, mysterious, known to bat her eyes, clash her styles, mix her decades and plump her lips as she sings with a tone both wistful and strangely primal. Although she was just recently signed to Interscope (on the strength of only two songs), in a way she’s already made it, scoring coveted real estate in magazines such as Rolling Stone and V and the sort of blogger devotion you rarely see in this time of 15 seconds celebrity.
And for good reason: Del Rey’s songs are moody, textured and coming from a real place. She can’t help being a sexpot much like her biggest fan can’t let a song go by without commenting crassly, but that wasn’t about to harsh the Troub crowd’s mellow, many of whom considered themselves incredibly lucky for scoring the hottest ticket in town. Each in attendance, like his or her neighbor, wondering: does she sing as good as she looks?
For the most part, the throngs of curious spectators would not leave disappointed as Del Rey sashayed her way through eight songs, all her own. She started off the 45-minute set with “Born to Die,” the title track of her forthcoming album (due out in 2012), finding her groove in a Grecian-esque gown as disparate images of Marilyn Monroe and disco balls were projected onto floating balls above her head. Del Rey followed it up with “Blue Jeans,” a song that, like her breakout “Video Games,” has already made its way around the blogosphere and reached circles far beyond.
With shades of Tori Amos to her vocal delivery, Del Rey moved effortlessly between fluttering falsetto to gutteral yawp, sometimes losing herself in the music’s unconventional melodies, as she did on the jazzy “Million Dollar Man.” Then again, it’s precisely that flare which has become Del Rey’s calling card and she was out to prove it on Wednesday.
“Video Games” appeared mid-way in the set, after repeated requests prompted Del Rey to reassure her devotees, “It’s coming!” Indeed, the song’s sense of hushed resignation was the perfect cool down for the revved-up crowd as Del Rey’s lower register turned out to be just as strong. By the time “Summertime Sadness” came around, with its vibrant imagery of New York City “hot and pretty,” the estimated 500 in attendance were mesmerized.
Del Rey is not a polished performer, and by the time she wrapped up the set with “You Can Be The Boss” and “Off To The Races,” the songs began to feel a little same-y. But she can clearly read a room. After flattery — “Thank you for being so cool, I fuckin’ love it here!” — she left her fans pining for more, telling the crowd matter-of-factly, “I’m not doing an encore.” No one dared protest.
Del Rey didn’t play an instrument. Her only stage accessory: the can of Diet Coke positioned next to the microphone from which Del Rey sipped often. In a way, it was a reassuring reminder that while she’s talked about endlessly, analyzed and even exalted, she is human after all.
Born To Die
Million Dollar Man
You Can Be The Boss
Off To The Races
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