Though clad in a glimmering, multicolored sequined jacket, Freya Ridings’ set Saturday afternoon was anything but flashy. The 23-year-old North London-based singer performed her set alone, with no bright graphics flashing on the screen behind her. Instead, Ridings relied solely upon her own raw talent — her awe-inspiring voice and the keyboard piano at her fingertips.
The choice made sense. After all, Ridings’ silken, buttery vocals have thus far served as her defining feature as a musician. Distracting from her voice could have easily taken away from her performance. Throughout her musical career, the young singer has thrived upon the raw, unfiltered energy of live performances — both of her released EPs are live recordings.
Though the simplicity of her performance highlighted the beauty of Ridings’ music, in some respects, it lacked the bold choices necessary to make it particularly memorable. Even her set list lacked variety — it was a near-verbatim mirror of her Live at Omeara album released this year. As such, the set remained predictable and less than exhilarating.
In terms of the quality of her musical performance, however, Ridings did hold her own in an admittedly challenging venue for a lesser-known artist — at Outside Lands, crowds face an inundation of simultaneous events. The lack of theatrics on Ridings’ part did offer a refreshing break from the bright lights and fancy footwork of many other performers, who seemed to scream for attention.
Without such visual displays, Ridings likely attracted fewer viewers than she could have otherwise. For the solid crowd that did gather around her spot at the Panhandle stage, however, she gave an intimate, beautiful and sensitive performance. After each song, Ridings placed her hands over her heart, then clasped them together in gratitude, murmuring her thanks before continuing on with her set.
As on Live at Omeara, Ridings concluded her set with her most well-known piece, “Lost Without You”: a tragically gorgeous song showcasing her chilling vocals. After breathing the piece’s final word, she beamed and took a small bow. Ridings’ set likely earned her some new fans, though perhaps not quite as many as she could have won over with a more robust stage presence. Those in attendance and already familiar with her work, however, undoubtedly left filled with a gratitude similar to Ridings’, overjoyed at the opportunity to see the rising singer live at what will hopefully prove to be just the beginning of her musical career.