Snail Mail stamps dazzling love, treacherous heartbreak on Fox Theater

Photo of Snail Mail.
Eran Kohen Behar/Staff

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Snail Mail pens love letters fit for the finest stationary — signed, sealed and delivered with a treacherous kiss.

Thrust into the spotlight at age 15, Lindsey Jordan (who performs under the moniker Snail Mail) glimmers with honest, experimental ruminations on passion and heartbreak. Though the COVID-19 pandemic kept her off the stage for nearly two years, she’s back on tour to promote her newest record Valentine. On the night of April 24, she took the stage of Oakland’s Fox Theater with delightful vigor, dousing all in the radiant light of her youthful glow.

Two cherubic statues flanked the center of the stage, their pedestals strewn with green garland. One pointed its arrow outward, the other upward — their bodies twisting with classical grace. As Madleen Kane’s “You and I” delicately played over the speakers, Jordan emerged between the figures wearing a sparkling black top and flowing purple pants. Even as the setting evoked an air of romance, it served as a reminder that love can also be a shot to the heart.

The deep blue lights gave way to fiery red as Jordan began “Valentine,” a heart-wrenching reflection on lost love. Though the song started slow with Jordan’s voice floating over the synth-infused accompaniment, it crescendoed into pulsing guitars and an ebullient belt. With expressive lyrics to zestful instrumentation, Jordan’s performance raised spirits high even as she wandered into emotional depths.

Demonstrating mastery over both electric and acoustic models, Jordan frequently switched guitars between songs. Fully in control of her instrument, she readily flowed through different moods and melodies, captivating with her splendid dynamism. The crowd gently swayed through the beginning of “Heat Wave” before energetically jumping along to an electrifying guitar solo. During “Automate,” the acoustic guitar assumed a percussive feel beneath Jordan’s buoyant vocals, which readily bounced between her high and low registers.

Each moment passed with fluid organicity, with Jordan comfortably inhabiting the stage despite her time away from it. Moving and grooving on stage, she brought out some of the dance moves she learned in preparation for her deceptively apathetic “Ben Franklin” music video. During “Madonna,” she set aside her guitar and embraced bodily movement, reaching out her arms in tense gestures and clutching embraces. As she threw her knees onto the floor, she beautifully mirrored the cathartic complexity of the religiously infused lyricism.

With each breath, Jordan exhaled a youthful, infectious energy, her stage presence sparkling and effervescent. Speaking to her love for Oakland, Jordan humorously related her experience riding a Lime electric scooter through the streets. In the middle of “Thinning,” she forgot the words, but she took the moment in stride. “Are those the lyrics? I wrote this when I was 15,” she joked, eliciting a loving laugh from the crowd.

Yet, for all her lighthearted appeal, Jordan did not shy away from vulnerable territory. After her intimate solo performance of “Light Blue,” she candidly spoke about her recent vocal cord surgery — a frightening process for a professional singer. However, the procedure opened up her range in ways she never previously imagined, opening new paths of possibility. Throughout the night, she transitioned between a ringing head voice and a constricted belt, toying with the new potential of her innate instrument.

At the end of the night, Jordan announced that she would deliver a cover of Gwen Stefani’s “Wind It Up,” attempting a yodel before letting out an immediate laugh. She then delivered a gleaming performance of “Pristine,” harkening back to the early days of her career with sustained energy and life. When she finished, Stefani’s vocals echoed over the speakers, and Jordan danced off the stage. From the venue’s cherubic figures to thoughtful meditations on love, the performance was nothing short of Love. Angel. Music. Baby.

Demonstrating mastery with her pen, voice and guitar, Snail Mail stamped Fox Theater with love and honest introspection, successfully sealing the envelope of a beautiful night.

Lauren Harvey covers music. Contact her at [email protected].