Scout Niblett, B.E. Godfrey, Elaine Greer Mango's September 4, 2013
When you see employees from local record stores in the crowd, it always seems like a reassuring nod that you're right where you should be. Needless to say, I was happy to see a few familiar faces when I headed down to Mango's Wednesday evening to catch Scout Niblett, who is touring all the way from England.
But before I could witness the beauty of Niblett live, I was first introduced to Austin-based singer-songwriter (and former Houstonian) Elaine Greer.
Greer, who is small in stature, opened her mouth and washed the room clean with vocals that could soothe a crying baby. But though it would be easy to compare her voice to someone else's, it would also be doing Greer a disservice.
Truthfully, Greer has a distinct ability to be both familiar and unique all at once. But while her effortless vocal capabilities deserve praise, it'd be a shame to overlook how skillfully she plucked at her guitar during her six-song set, including two tracks she debuted without a hitch.
Shortly after Greer's set, local act B.E. Godfrey took the stage. Because it's the solo project of listenlisten's Ben Godfrey, it's easy to see similarities in the two on album. In person, however, B.E. Godfrey feels a little more introverted, in the way only a solo project can feel.
Though Godfrey had the help of a three-piece backing band, he made Mango's feel as intimate as possible, and for a moment I'd almost forgotten that I was standing in a club best-known for hosting sweaty punk shows.
As B.E. Godfrey moved through songs "Into the Wild" and "Regret," a certain wisdom began to radiate through the speakers. Certainly it has much to do with Godfrey's voice, which is contemplative by nature. But with the help of the other musicians, he pushed forward with a quiet persistence that felt bigger than the moment.
The reality is that B.E. Godfrey is headed for bigger and better things, which became apparent after the group performed "Into the Abyss" off their upcoming EP. Now, what those bigger and better things are I don't know, but Godfrey has a way of writing songs that are relatable in the most human way, so I doubt it will be long.
Once B.E. Godfrey finished their eighth and final song, it almost felt as though it'd be impossible for Scout Niblett to outshine such strong opening acts. Then again, I'd never seen her live.
But just by standing there, Niblett made the opening acts a distant memory.
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As she settled in to begin her first song, Niblett began laughing hysterically, much to the confusion of both her drummer and the crowd. It turns out that the stage lights, which were flashing different colors at a dizzying rate, were the cause of Niblett's laughter fit.
Luckily, Niblett made it through the first song without cracking again before another guitarist joined them in time to launch into "Gun," the first single off her new album, It's Up to Emma.
However, Niblett was forced to end "Gun" prematurely in order to deal with a feedback issue that had been audible since B.E. Godfrey's performance.
While the sound guy tended to the issue, she took to the middle of the stage and asked if anyone has ever seen pterodactyl porn. The crowd's only response was laughter, but Niblett insisted it's a real thing, explaining that "people dress up as pterodactyls and have sex."
(I didn't dive too far into the recesses of the Internet, but I can tell you that I at least did a Google image search. Yes, pterodactyl porn is real, and it is totally NSFW.)
Once the microphone issue was resolved, Niblett jumped into the next song and effortlessly managed to encompass everything that women in grunge have tried, but failed to do.
Without even trying, she was gentle, sweet, tough and bold all at once; her performance was nothing short of inspiring. Because rock music is heavily saturated with men, women often fight hard to be seen as equals, doing what they can to avoid being in the spotlight to avoid having a stigma placed on them.
However, at Mango's Scout owned her emotion, channeling desire one moment and rage the next.
Of course, she had a little help in the rage department, as one of Houston's notoriously loud crowds struck again.
Niblett worked through the intro to "Nevada" before she stopped playing for a split-second to shoot one hell of a glare to the back of the room, where a few particularly loud patrons were standing. But instead of making a fuss about it, Niblett dug deep inside herself and sang as loud as she could as she began to strum with purpose.
It was the kind of body language that shouts out, "You will not win this battle."
Even so, the loud patrons didn't seem to get the memo, and as she worked her way through the next two songs, it was very clear that Niblett's patience was wearing thin.
After she finished playing her new track, "Could This Possibly Be?", Niblett announced that it was the last song before she unplugged her guitar.
Sure, she could have addressed the issue, but the problem is that she shouldn't have to. Instead, Niblett gave the crowd what they wanted before calling it a night, and she did it with as much grace as possible.
Overheard In the Crowd: Normally I'd write a funny quote I overheard here, but I'd rather remind our readers that carrying on a conversation during a concert isn't okay. Sadly, this concert was cut short for a lot of fans, so if you want to talk, please take it somewhere else.
The Crowd: A mixture of men and women, all in their twenties.
Random Notebook Dump: Mango's is the only place where you can find graffiti in the form of a maxi pad that says "Fuck your system," in red lipstick, which sits six inches away from "#YOLO Swag 4 Jesus."
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