Florence and the Machine
Sshhh. Let it be our secret.
Do me a favor. Don't tell anyone about the band Florence and the Machine. They're still fairly unknown in the States, and I'd like to keep it that way. They can be as big as they want in the UK, but next time they come to New York, I want to be able to see them from 20 feet away again.
I had the fortune of seeing Brit-rockers Muse four times from ultra-close range—as they shredded the walls of medium-sized, general-admission venues—before they upgraded to arena-size rock for this latest tour. And it just ain't the same seeing them from the 300 section of Madison Square Garden. My beloved Deftones released their tour dates today, and I was crestfallen to find that they, too, will be playing the Garden. Ugh. Unless I'm pressed shoulder to shoulder with fans, the PA system penetrating my solar plexus, close enough to see what color Chino's socks are, I feel like I'm being robbed of the full experience.
So anyway. Florence and the Machine. The band is led by—or rather, is—Florence Welch. With a lung capacity that could rival Bjork (well, almost) and a stage presence that pulls in anyone watching from the second balcony, you'd think she's been doing this for decades. But her debut album, Lungs, just came out last year. And after the show we attended, my friend and I were incredulous to discover that she's only 23 years old. It's almost not fair.
Coming up with comparisons for Florence's sound is nearly impossible. She mixes harps with hard-hitting drums, belting layers of powerful vocals over top. Florence herself has trouble citing influences. When asked, she said, "I don't know... anything that sounds big," then added that she likes to "go in the woods and be feral." As weird as that sounds, it kind of makes sense. The words and emotion are raw and visceral, with imagery of bones, lungs, clawing skin, howling like a wolf at the moon. "I drag my teeth across your chest to taste your beating heart," she sings.
She is haunting, bewitching and seductive all in one motion. At our show she came out on stage in an ivory dress with a feathery shawl draped over her shoulders, a celestial aura emanating from her. The smoky backlighting framing her, her hair looking like tongues of flame, you take her seriously before she even reaches the microphone. Then a few songs in, without changing her character, she was able to exhibit behavior that was playful and almost childlike, kicking off her high heels and jumping about the stage with her newfound freedom of movement.
This chick is genuine, original and unquestionably talented. Lungs doesn't have a mediocre song on it. She's going to be around for a while. So please, as a favor to me, don't spread the word just yet. I'd like the honeymoon to last just a little longer.