Live: Holly Miranda Decimates Bowery Ballroom With Some Help From Kyp Malone, A Horn Section, And Etta James


“I enjoy a good sleep,” Holly Miranda told us yesterday, discussing the distinct snooze motif running through the Jealous Girlfriends singer’s new woozy, eerily ethereal solo record, The Magician’s Private Library, leading one to expect a demure, delicate, dreamlike set tonight. But no, there she is wailing away with raucous abandon, a stupendously muscular band (the manic drummer especially) bashing away behind her, taking on tunes by both Yoko Ono and Etta James and totally burning down both of them.

The Yoko is “Nobody Sees Me Like You Do,” slow and sweet, Miranda’s thundering voice indulging in just a bit of Ono-ian warbliness. But it’s the Etta-affiliated “I’d Rather Go Blind” that decimates the place, a full-on pleading soul torch song, horn section and everything, punctuated by piercing moans of “I would rather go blind than to see you walk away from me.” In a pink dress to ward off the heat, her VIP sticker slapped onto her thigh, Miranda sings the shit out of it. Half the crowd is shocked; the other half clearly saw this coming.

Stuff from Private Library is likewise buffed up, the distinctly intricate (Dave Sitek produced, and you can tell) dream pop here transformed into blaring, propulsive goth-rock. “High Tide” is buoyed by soft piano chords and a clattering drum machine, but a vengeful electric guitar squall and the even more vengeful live drummer eventually take over and turn it into something unhinged, raucous, gigantic. And though the quartet doesn’t need any help, Miranda keeps adding guests: a horn section, some sleigh bells, and even Kyp Malone in duet on the standout “Slow Burn Treason.” Then she invites everyone up to join an a capella choir to back “a song about how we should have the right to marry whoever the fuck we want to marry.” This, too, starts out gentle and sweet (“There’s nothing wrong with the way you feel,” Miranda sings, “And everything will be all right”), but suddenly, BOOM, another thrashing coda: bleating horns, monster drums, confetti. This time everyone looks shocked. And also elated.