Last Friday night Boston chanteuse Marissa Nadler entranced the audience at DC’s Red Palace with her dreamy folk songscapes. On tour with her was fellow Bostonian singer/songwriter Mike Fiore, who performs as Faces On Film. It was a low-key evening of quiet, beautiful music for a small but attentive and appreciative audience.
Starting off the night was Faces on Film. Fiore was alone onstage, but managed to create a lush sound that filled the room with reverb- drenched vocals and guitar. His sound blended folk with hints of country and sixties rock, but leaned towards atmospheric and dreamy. Highlights of his set included “Harlem Roses” and “Knot in the Vine” from his latest album Some Weather.
Now, a strange thing happened somewhere between the opener’s set and Miss Nadler’s: most of the people in the room sat down on the floor. When Faces on Film was playing I noticed people sitting along the wall, which didn’t seem too weird, especially since there weren’t a lot of people there yet, and it was a quiet set. Then there was a break between sets, during which people went to the bar, or downstairs for a moment, and later arrivals came in, and people sat on the floor. The weird part about it was that when Marissa Nadler came onstage to start her set…nobody got back up. It was like we were in grade school, or at the public library for story-time, sitting cross-legged and looking up, waiting to be entertained. I admit I was guilty too- I had on high heels and was thankful to be sitting. At the time I didn’t think too much about it, but in retrospect, it was really unusual to have a room like the Red Palace with the audience all on the floor.
The posture of her audience didn’t seem to affect her performance, though. She played a full set of introspective, dark and beautiful ballads. She took the audience on an auditory journey, transporting us to a timeless place. She wove landscapes with her mesmerizing guitar, and laid stories on top with her voice- in times soaring, lilting, from breathy to clarion, ethereal and full of yearning. “Your Heart is a Twisted Vine” was a stand-out, melancholic and beautiful, in moments evoking a heartache reminiscent of Jeff Buckley’s “Lilac Wine.” Midway through the set Nadler was joined on stage by Fiore, who backed her up with guitar and harmonizing vocals on the country-tinged, wistful “Puppet Master” from her new eponymous album, as well as a few other songs. She closed her set with another gem from her latest album, the dreamy “The Sun Always Reminds Me of You.” Luckily for the audience she quickly came back for an encore before bringing the evening to a quiet close.