ACL Live Shot: Zola Jesus
Zilker Park, Oct. 13
Reviewed by Adam Schragin, Fri., Oct. 19, 2012
Nika Danilova records under the eyebrow-arching nom de plume Zola Jesus, and with a backing band featuring a standing drum set, violinist, and keyboard player, she performed a heady set of somber electronics shot through with lots of low-end percussion and her own powerful vocals. "It rains during every festival I've played," she sighed during one of her few nonsung addresses to the crowd, and though it began to drizzle during "In Your Nature" (ominous sample lyric: "It's coming down ..."), the precipitation was just a prelude to what was to come hours later. In a flowing gray outfit and surrounded by musicians dressed all in black, Danilova's poise and control belie not just her 23 years on earth, but also her modest start toying with noise and melody on a scratchy 2009 home-recorded debut, Spoils. Like obvious inspiration Kate Bush, Zola Jesus tends to do one thing particularly well, but when the songs began to run together, she broke the synthesizer hypnotics by running the stage, leaping into the audience, and, at the end of the set, pounding the cymbals to a raucous crescendo.
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