Concert Review: Holly Miranda (Opening for Tegan and Sara) at Sunset Cove Amphitheater

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To view a slideshow of photos from the show, click here.

Holly Miranda
With Tegan and Sara
Sunset Cove Amphitheater
February 21, 2010

Better Than: Having to brave a bunch of Brooklyn hipsters for some true New York cool

The Review:

Had Holly Miranda heard that I came to catch her Sunset Cove show straight from a polo match in Wellington, she probably would have come straight down from the stage and kicked my ass. Not that the lass is all that ass-kicking, mind you (at least not that I know of anyway). But the stick-thin indie darling, whose only concession to finery seems to be a good pair of boots, exists in a place that's worlds away from Palm Beach. And it's highly unlikely she'd find little good to say about the too-well-fed set, let alone someone who'd chose to spend the day in their midst.

Be that as it may, there was something decidedly stirring about the incongruity of it all. And had I not prefaced Miranda's appearance with an exercise in minor excess, it's doubtful I would have been able to as truly appreciate the austerity of her song.

Make that songs, most culled from Miranda's debut solo LP, The Magician's Private Library. It's an ethereal collection -- dreamy, wistful, and at times even somewhat lush. Yet there's a certain starkness to the work, borne of long nights and salad days, and in many ways it seems to bear the mark of one who's sacrificed just about everything.

Live, even with a band, Miranda's songs are stripped to their core, but not of their essence. Every element is essential, and every piece fits. A guitar line threads a bass which buffers the drums, and they all cohere to form a framework perfectly suited for the words. There is no excess here, nothing extra. And there's a sense that this is someone who spends her time wisely.

Of course none of it would work without that voice, which has been compared to such esteemed singers as Chan Marshall and Imogen Heap, yet which remains a singular sensation. From the opening gentle rush of "Waves" the crowd was lifted and left adrift in a sea of dreamy possibility. And there's Miranda's voice, fluid and floating above it all, a beacon in the ether, a light in the fog, a hand to be held.

So no, Holly Miranda, the semi-stoic, Brooklyn-based,Tt-shirt clad, assembler of song, most likely wouldn't much dig the glitz of The Polo Club. Then again, she probably couldn't care less. After all, she's got people to play for, and cities to sway. And there's not a game in the world that'll get in her way, regardless of how ancient or regal it may or may not be.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I fell for Holly Miranda the minute I'd heard she'd covered Swans' "God Damn the Sun," and after I heard The Magician's Private Library, I fell even harder.

Random Detail: If Sunset Cove had seats it would be one of South Florida's most fan-friendly venues. Parking is easy, the staff is considerate, and there's nothing like hearing good music beneath a Florida moon. According to Erica Rieke at AEG -- who kindly got me ticketed despite some kinda mix-up -- there will indeed be seats for Yes.

By the Way:As I mentioned in the intro to last week's Q&A, Miranda's debut solo LP was produced by Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio, which should tell you where her indie cred is at.

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