If you closed your eyes at Senseless Optimism’s release show in Lowell this past Friday night (July 15), it almost felt like 2019 again.
Notes of Brittany Tsewole’s day-old EP It Gets Better spilled into Market Street from CNCPT6, the former UnchARTed Gallery space that shuttered roughly a year before the rest of the live music industry was forced to follow suit in 2020. With the Boston artist crooning atop the revamped UnchARTed stage, drinks flowing, and a sold-out crowd huddled on the dancefloor, it almost felt like a scene from the blissful ol’ pre-pandemic days that feel achingly far behind us. But the whole point of It Gets Better is to reaffirm that plenty of good days are ahead of us, too.
Bookended by sets from fellow Lowell acts Phil Cambra and The Shirts And Shoes, Senseless Optimism’s performance mixed her 2020 Dreamland Demos EP with It Gets Better, a five-track soulful simmer across genre lines. As an artist who was raised near Lowell, Tsewole’s choice of venue and bands placed a deliberate emphasis on Mill City’s often overlooked arts scene.
“[It’s] where I grew into the person I am today, it’s home,” she tells Vanyaland. “To perform at CNCPT6 was a dream come true of mine. [I] never got the chance to perform when it was UnchARTed, but to grace that stage definitely was a goal accomplished.”
Each of Tsewole’s ideas molded to fit the sensory environment of CNCPT6, which also includes visual art and creative culinary ventures. Her art extended beyond the stage and covered the gallery’s walls when an exclusive viewing of her unreleased music video “Hater” sprawled across the back corner of the venue. Other Senseless Optimism exclusives filled the evening, such as the launch of Tsewole’s new apparel and the “Senseless Optimism” cocktails available at the bar, a summery concoction of vodka, grenadine, lemon soda, and lime juice.
“I love the owners’ collective vision, design skills, and just overall aptitude when it comes to the visual and audio arts,” she adds. “Working in conjunction with them for the visual design of my release show was a smooth experience and turned out absolutely amazing.”
You could call it an evening ripped right from a 2019 diary entry. But it’d be more accurate to say that the return of artful nightlife — at 103 Market St. or anywhere — is still possible with equal parts patience and Senseless Optimism.