There isn’t much about Revolution Cafe that would make you think it’s the perfect venue for an electronic soloist to strut her stuff, and yet that’s exactly what went down there Friday night.
Grey Davies, a campus junior and rising musician, performed a set of songs off her first album as part of Balanced BreakFEST 2018 in San Francisco, a three-day music festival in the Mission District. The lack of a stage meant that everyone was either seated or standing mere feet away from the performer, creating a rather intimate feeling. This was especially true when Davies herself walked into the cafe, maneuvering around the audience as she made her way to the empty performance space.
It took a while for Davies to have her equipment set up, as she relies on prerecorded backing vocals and instrumentals to accompany her live vocals. But she didn’t let this perturb her, quickly taking the initiative to converse with the cafe audience.
“Who here bought the album?” she asked, and when it became clear that most of the festivalgoers were unfamiliar with her music, she started freestyling instead in an apparent attempt to woo an audience that had yet to be wooed by her.
And it did the trick. Davies’ music speaks for itself with its instrumental innovation and smooth subtleties. Her energy seemed to wake up the crowd despite the late hour, and by the time all of Davies’ equipment was set up, it was clear the audience was excited for the set to come.
Her voice at last backed by instrumentals, the show began in earnest. Much of Davies’ music features collaborators and vocals other than her own, which made for an interesting solo performance. Davies was alone onstage, but this didn’t make her music sound empty or hollow in any way. Left only with the main vocals for her songs, Davies’ full attention was on belting out her lyrics.
Most impressive was her unabashed dancing, which made for a show that was equal parts exuberating and refreshing even if Davies was the lone star. At one point she danced all the way to the back of the cafe and then danced back to her rightful place, a smile on her face the entire time.
Davies’ set wasn’t the most elaborate, nor the most innovative. But it was exciting nonetheless to see how seriously she takes her showmanship, proving that her rising place in the Bay Area music scene has been well-earned.
As she continues with her one-woman show, the venues will likely get bigger and less intimate — the capability to dazzle, however, won’t change.