Jessy Lanza and Home Body light up first FNR show of term

by Betty Kim | 9/27/16 12:00am

Source: Courtesy of Byrne Hollander

Glittery electropop music played and colorful lights flashed during the first Friday Night Rock concert of the school year. The performance, which took place in Sarner Underground this past Friday, featured electronic musician Jessy Lanza along with opening band Home Body.

Expressing excitement for her first show in New Hampshire, Lanza demonstrated her eclectic sound to a receptive audience. While her voice floated over ethereal synthesizer sounds inspired by 70s and 80s pop, a catchy modern rhythm drove the show forward and turned the small space into a vibrant dance floor.

A prolific artist, Lanza has sold out shows touring in North America and Europe and will begin her second European tour of the year in October. Her two most recent albums, including her 2016 album “Oh No,” were nominated for the Polaris Music Prize, a Canadian music award that recognizes musicians regardless of genre. In addition to her commercial success, Lanza is present in the underground music scene, performing at Boiler Room this past August.

Lanza explained that much of her music sounds upbeat because of her creative process — she channels negative feelings into an entirely different product.

“I get a lot of tension out by going to the studio and doing something that’s the opposite of how I feel,” Lanza said. “When I’m performing, it’s great to take that negative energy and let go, and I feel like it helps other people watching [me] let go as well.”

Lanza combined her captivating music with electrifying visuals — three diamond-shaped lights changed color and flashed as the mood shifted throughout the show.

Audience member Valerie Orellana ’15 commented on the cohesiveness of the performance.

“The visuals are amazing — they go with the rhythm and synthetic pop of the music,” Orellana said.

Massachusetts-based band Home Body’s opening performance could be characterized as electropop bordering on experimental. Haley Morgan’s powerful and versatile voice soared over her partner Eric Hnatow’s eclectic synthesizer sounds, which ranged from pumping bass to industrial noises.

Hnatow said that the interplay between the band’s performance and audience reception shapes their music.

“When you perform for people, there’s a third element,” Hnatow said, saying that the audience’s reaction plays a large part in the development of their music.

The duo agreed that performances at colleges present special learning opportunities for the group.

“I think there’s a different kind of energy for people who are simultaneously more curious, more open to being inspired, and still trying to figure out their lens through which they’re perceiving the world,” Morgan said.

Though audience members seemed taken aback by the unconventional sounds of the opening number, the mood changed significantly as the show progressed. Eventually it seemed as if they were dancing with Morgan and Hnatow. In one particularly well-received number, Morgan danced holding lights that flashed with each of her punch-like motions.

Combining sound, visuals and choreography, Home Body takes a multimedia approach to performance. In addition to touring and producing their own songs, the duo has participated in fashion shows, dance performances, films and commercials. Currently, they are working on a new album.

“It’s really exciting to see how things are building, and I think this album is really going to project us,” Morgan said.

Alek Abate ’17, a booking manager for FNR, said Lanza’s current popularity and lively sound made her ideal for the first performance of the season.

“We wanted something upbeat to be our first show,” Abate said. “I think she’s definitely a type of artist where if people hear her initially, they’ll want to stick around.”

Thayer School of Engineering graduate student Tomas Jordan expressed his appreciation for FNR as a student organization.

“Because the campus is isolated from the rest of New Hampshire, it’s really important that you can get everything for people with a specific interest,” Jordan said. “You have the outing clubs, all sorts of activities, [but] what’s really lacking here is the music scene.”

Brenna Gourgeot ’18, a venue manager for FNR, said that the club is meant to be an alternative social space for students looking for a place to spend time outside of fraternities or other common social spheres.

Abate also emphasized the organization as a community, noting FNR is a “great way to cultivate a relationship with people who have similar music tastes or interests to you.”

FNR will be hosting another show in October. Its final two shows of the term will feature indie rock band Destroyer on Nov. 4, and punk/indie rock band !!! (pronounced “chk chk chk”) Nov. 11.