The one thing you should see this week
This week’s pick: Florence and the Machine
Because a rapid ascent is inevitably followed by scrutiny and backlash, it’s best to celebrate fun, fiery acts before all the joy is sucked out of the experience. What will forever be known as the year that Lady Gaga conquered the world, 2009 is also the year Florence Welch, a 22-year-old redheaded whirling dervish from South London, stormed the gates of pop music. The daughter of a professor of Renaissance studies (what else?), Welch has fashioned a sound that is the product of an art school education, the club scene and the workings of a tricky, tortuous mind. No one does eccentric quite like the English.
Watching Welch perform as Florence and the Machine is like watching a profoundly literate and profoundly hyperactive firefly: incandescent, she sprints, leaps and weaves, whispering and howling about love and death. She’s nervy and unnerving. And, like that other big (big!) act of 2009, she has a flair for the dramatic: she once spent 48 hours at the Glastonbury festival dressed in a Victorian clown costume. With songs that jump from pop to rock to jazz to punk to opera, her freewheeling style is as hard to pin down as she is, but it clearly has wide appeal. “Dog Days Are Over,” the first song on her debut album, Lungs, got major play when it was featured in the trailer for Eat, Pray, Love. Other tracks, such as the upbeat downer “Kiss With a Fist,” have popped up on myriad TV shows (Skins, Grey’s Anatomy, Gossip Girl, Saving Grace). Welch’s version of “You’ve Got the Love” caught the ears of cool-kid staple the XX, and the band was compelled to make a hypnotic, harp-heavy remix-meets-cover of her cover of the song made most famous by The Source and Candi Staton. (Still with us?)
Detractors and fans alike have noted the similarities between Florence and the Machine and fellow Brits Kate Bush, Siouxsie Sioux and PJ Harvey. No argument here—and no matter. There just aren’t enough unapologetically stormy girls in the world.
The details: Nov. 3. $30.50. Sound Academy, 11 Polson St., 416-461-3625, sound-academy.com.