by Patience Young
With their debut album Lush gracing every “Best of 2018” list, Snail Mail played a sold-out show at Deluxx Fluxx in Detroit. Open since August, the neon clad art bar has been constantly rocking thanks to local booking geniuses Party Store Productions. The crowd was enthusiastic for opener Why Bonnie’s dreamy indie-pop riffs and bopped along, dripping with anticipation.
Snail Mail is love at first listen, and you fall all-in safely because they won’t hurt you, they hurt with you. Led by Lindsey Jordan, the captivating melodies are heart wrenching, but this isn’t teenage angst. If there’s one emotion everyone understands, it’s heartache. No one is spared by its searing flame, and no one captures it quite like Snail Mail. Heartbreak sucks, but if we didn’t completely wreck each other we wouldn’t have masterpieces like “Lush.” It’s this universal truth that brings together a truly all ages crowd, united by the electric buzz and lyrics they recite like prayers.
In the bathroom I wash my hands next to Lindsey and ask her how’s she’s doing. Humble and approachable, she looks like the crowd she plays to. With a bashful smile she says, “Good.” Around five feet tall and 19 years old, Lindsey is much bigger than her stature and oozes with that sacred wisdom of youth.
Opening with “Heat Wave,” her soulful voice sounds even better live. She lets the crowd sing “I’m feeling low,” and then belts out “I’m not into sometimes.” Her band has had several iterations but tonight they sound perfect, crisper through the sound system then any set of headphones.
When Lindsey speaks, her voice is soft and low. She says, “We’re from Baltimore, Detroit of the East Coast.” She steps up to the mic with her eyes closed, as if we’re in her bedroom and she’s playing these songs for the first time.
Releasing her guitar, Lindsey crosses her arms behind her head like she’s reclining in the bathtub, and when she sings “leave things on speaking terms,” it’s a soft sob right from the soul. She hammers back down with “I’ll see you around,” and it feels like we’re right there with her, in the throes of a crumbling love.
She doesn’t talk much, except to thank the opener, their sound guy, the tour manager and us. The audience takes advantage of a moment of silence to yell what’s your favorite color (yellow), and what’s your favorite Wilco song (she says she needs to think about it and will tell us later, but she never does).
The show reaches a climax with “Pristine,” the ravaging ballad that captures so effortlessly the yearning and contraindications of a broken heart. The crowd breaks into a mosh pit more inspired by emotion than the melodic refrain.
The band files off stage leaving Lindsey and her guitar to play us out. She finishes with a cover of her favorite song, Courtney Love’s “The Second Most Beautiful Girl in the World.” As the final chord reverberates a hush falls over the room, a shared moment in reverence before we shuffle into the cold streets with no better feeling than coming clean.
Let’s Find an Out
The Second Most Beautiful Girl In the World (Courtney Love cover)