March 8, 2024

Dawn Richard and Spencer Zahn played (le) poisson rouge

The enigmatic duo of Dawn Richard and Spencer Zahn brought their refined ambient arrangements to a packed (le) poisson rouge, dazzling the crowd with their celestial soundscapes.

Tracing the trajectory of Dawn Richard's career is no easy task. Rising to fame with the reality television born group Danity Kane, Richard quickly left the limelight and took a path to become an electro-revival dynamo who has recently risen in the indie community as well, with major blogs and publications recognizing her killer R&B hits. Somewhere along the way, she met multi-instrumentalist Spencer Zahn and the two decided to team-up for 2022's illustrious album Pigments, an unexpected but highly regard record that introduced Dawn to a whole new world of new age, ambient jazz. In regards to artists making drastic left turns in their music, it's another exceptional showing from an artist taking risks beyond expectations. Bringing these movements to life on stage is no easy feature as the fragile harmonics and delicate melodies spread like thin glass, each note weaving a web of precious tones that add to the music's organic pulse. The music was led by Zahn and the octet flowed with distinguished grace, crystalizing with brilliant form and reverberating elegance with every breath. Morphing spacial, distant electronic keys with hovering melodies from a stellar woodwind trio, the music on its own was captivating, but when Richard took to the mic, her angelic voice hit like velvet. The bass clarinet and saxophone provided even more texture to the group's already lush and dream-like sound, building the cosmic world for which the two guitarists and cellist would follow. A vision in red, Richard commanded the attention of the crowd at every moment, her whispering vocals giving new depths and adding to the range she demonstrated so freely. "We loved it so much we did it again," she acknowledged during the set before announcing a new album is to be expected. The crowd was then treated to a new track called "Stains," the first of several new songs of the night, which honed in on the more minimal side of the duo's sound while Dawn's vocal work was presented with the clearest mix we've heard yet from this project, her words taking center stage as the focus sharpened with a more confident focus. Always a gracious performer, Dawn seemed extra grateful for the performance, thanking Zahn for creating music that allowed her to be so versatile and challenge herself with a genre so different from her comfort zone. Declaring "Sienna" her favorite of their songs, the track felt extra magical in the context, the astral buzz circulating with more force, enrapturing the room with its distilled beauty. Coming to a climax with an ethereal rendition of "Umber," Richard led the crowd through a cathartic and rejuvenating performance that brought the night to its full potential and highest display of sonic revelations. "Feel the energy" she exclaimed to the crowd, all of whom roared back with reassurance, bringing the liveliest elements of the night into a brief view before serenading us back into resounding bliss. Coming back for an encore just as a duo, Richard and Zahn performed a brand new, never performed, never even rehearsed track from the aforementioned upcoming project which silenced the crowd as we looked on in awe, crestfallen for the magical display in front of us that proved to be a refreshing and healing journey through moving melodies and fleeting rhythms, a nurturing experience to keep you fulfilled for quite some time.

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