Not every new artist can make the cavernous House of Blues feel like a sweaty dive, throwing down an assured set of soon-to-be classic songs all while opening for a well-established band like Jimmy Eat World. But that’s where Alex Lahey found herself Monday night (June 11).
Continuing her victory lap of a tour behind last fall’s I Love You Like a Brother and bringing her music to her largest Boston audience yet, Lahey’s all-too-short set sounded like a greatest-hits collection for a career that’s only one EP and one album deep. She leaned heavily on the pop-punk end of her repertoire, tossing off riffs and melodies that could become your favorite song before she finished playing them. Hearing audience members yell along with “Every Day’s The Weekend” and “You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me” was a satisfying experience. Knowing others were hearing them for the first time equally so.
While drawing from the spikier end of her discography was understandable — you gotta get to the wallet chain-carrying fans of the headliners somehow — hearing only her most accessible material was a little bit of a letdown for fans of the album.
Lahey left out songs like the doo-wop pastiche “I Want U,” as well as her witty covers of “Torn” and “Complicated,” which made the set seem like an incomplete snapshot of the artist’s nascent talent. Better to leave them wanting more, right?
On this run, Lahey led a tight four-piece band, augmented by touring bass player Liv Slingerland, who did justice to the album’s satisfyingly clean sound. As a bandleader, Lahey has an off-hand stage presence that fit her music. She stomped and strutted across the stage, shrugging off solos and singing leads with her hair in her face like a tomboyish Veronica Lake. Between songs, however, an endearingly awkward side of the songwriter came out; she addressed the audience in a high-pitched voice, speaking of the things she loves about visiting our city. Judging by the audience reaction, the feeling was mutual.
The half-hour set flew by, but with Lahey’s recent victories at music festivals, we can only hope she’ll return for a headlining set in a venue this size before long.
Editor’s Note: Under her Travels With Brindle moniker, Chelsea Spear released a full ukulele covers album of Lahey’s debut LP, hers titled ‘I Love You Like a Cover’. She hopes to give it to Alex someday.