Show opener Julia Holter overshadows main act


by Sarah Tanori, Senior Staff Writer

A windy and ominous climate awaited Julia Holter in a night of firsts.

The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter made her debut San Diego appearance at 7:30 on Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre as the supporting act for Beirut.

The performance was also her first show ever with a full backing band.

Holter has refined the art of darkness and beauty with her signature avant-pop sound. She has been praised by publications like Pitchfork and NPR for her ability to create accessible experimental music that mixes genres like pop, electronic, jazz and more.

Her shy and reserved demeanor did not drive off the fact that she and her backing band are powerhouse performers.

Holter opened her set with a shy and wispy rendition of “Feel You” from her latest record, “Have You In My Wilderness.”

She and her band created a dramatic atmosphere through Holter’s iridescent vocals and charged music, which set a mellow yet unpredictable tone for the night.

Her performance of “Marienbad” highlighted that erratic charm.

She sang in a choppy style, sharply enunciating each word. While each syllable landed harshly, her soft vocals brought a balance to the tense feel of the song. She created a sense of intimacy with her audience through the sincerity in her voice combined with her gothic-style keyboard melodies.

“I’ve been wanting to see Julia Holter since I was 17 years old,” engineering junior Joey Bautista said. “After her set, I was somehow even more starry-eyed than I was three years ago.”

Holter then transitioned to the upbeat “Everytime Boots,” which channeled a spirit similar to Fiona Apple’s music with its vulnerable lyricism and jarring strength.

The performance began with a screeching violin and then the drums quickly shifted the music to a faster tempo. The song captured the spirit of a child and the pain of an adult with its open and honest lyrics. Holter’s lyrics expressed fear and hopefulness, touching on ideas about removing herself from a bleak reality.

“Can you bring me a fresher perspective, please,” Holter sang. “May I be a prouder conqueror, just bathing in light?”

“Sea Calls Me Home” served as Holter’s farewell letter. She sensually transported her audience out from her land of enchantment and brought everyone home. The nostalgic sounds from the opening keyboard resembled a tune played by a children’s toy, equating the song to a musical ode to childhood.