Almost a year ago, the VH1 staff put together our picks for our favorite songs of 2013 (so far…), and I had the foresight, or just the dumb luck, of picking a then unknown single by Betty Who called “Somebody Loves You.” A viral video and almost a year later, and Betty Who has gone from pop’s best kept secret to its next big thing. She played New York’s famed Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night and we were there.
On Saturday night, the Bowery Ballroom was packed with a hip young New Yorkers who were ready to do something that hip young New Yorkers rarely do: have a completely sincere good time. The sound of Betty Who doesn’t lend itself to sarcasm, cynicism or pretension. Her music was made for dancing. Sure, her lyrics can be witty and world-weary, but you can’t listen to even the saddest Betty Who song and feel despair. The combination of her sweet, Aussie-accented singing voice and her penchant for synth chords makes every Betty Who song sound hopeful.
While everyone in the crowd seemed to be cutting loose and having a great time, Betty Who herself (aka Jessica Anne Newman) was in turns, bubbly, flirty and ebullient. She got down with her bandmates and joked with the audience packed against the stage. She played popular tracks off of her first two EPs, The Movement and Slow Dancing, and even played a new track.
As for her hit single? At the end of her set, she still hadn’t played “Somebody Loves You,” and winked that it would be in the “encore.” When she returned onstage, her band played the opening chords before switching to a different song. As it was, “Somebody Loves You” was the final song of the night.
It was a smart and fitting place for it, but I’m personally starting to wonder if encores have lost their magic. It used to be that you actually didn’t know if a band would play an encore, or if they would only play b-sides, covers or something bizarre and new. The encore seemed, even if it wasn’t, to be spontaneous. This isn’t a commentary on this specific show, but rather that I’ve been to two shows in one week where the act kind of fessed to the fact that the old ritual of an encore is meaningless. Ingrid Michaelson cracked a joke and teased her “encore” with adorable air quotes and an eye roll, and Betty Who pretty much let everyone know that her encore wasn’t really an encore, but an extension of the set.
Speaking of the set, Betty Who gave a great show at the Bowery Ballroom. Her voice was great, her band was on point and the energy in the room was infectious. I haven’t been to another show where everyone was so happy, so exuberant and so in synch since I first saw Lady Gaga on The Fame Ball Tour. Also, shout outs to both of Betty Who’s opening acts. Zak Waters, who kept the crowd bouncing with his slick twist of electro-pop and soul, and Cardiknox, who showed an almost unhealthy amount of star quality. Like, my friend starting nerding out over her while she was still on stage and I might already have “Technicolor Dreaming” on playlist.
*Note: Photo is from a show in Los Angeles earlier this month*
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]