Lillie West’s newest album I Want the Door to Open under her Lala Lala project had a pretty grand release party at Thalia Hall last Friday. The ambitious album has an overwhelming sense of renewal as West shifts everything about her sound, embarking on completely new journey. It’s a rewarding album that offers so much with every listen, so to hear it performed in full in the city where so many of it’s artists are based is a joy. This release show was a local affair as well with Kara Jackson and Divino Niño joining Lala Lala in celebrating the release of a fantastic album.
Kara Jackson opened up the night with a solo moment that was funny as it was breath taking. Between a Karen Dalton cover and a nice assortment of her own songs, Jackson took little time to wow the crowd with her amazing voice and personality. Jackson has a take no shit attitude as she beautifully belts out songs with title’s like “Dick Head Blues” and jokes with the crowd. Whether it’s thanking the crowd for being quiet or lamenting the fact that the person at the center of “Ray” never sent her a diss track in return, Jackson had the crowd in the palm of her hand.
Divino Niño took to the stage next and the crowd was more than ready for them. The band has become one of the local giants that always deliver a fantastic set and Thalia Hall got that and more. Camilo Medina has one of the more enthusiastic presences among the band as he dances and grates to the songs with unwavering confidence. It’s been a while since they’ve releases a new album but favorites like the sexually enamored “Quiero” and the toxic relationship anthem “Maria” still feel as fresh as ever. Even when paired new songs like “Drive” which see the band embracing a wider more varied sound, the band just has a way of pouring their entire self into their performance and making everything feel new. As awlays, their off the wall “Welcome to Miami” had the crowd dancing to their hearts content and Divino Niño just jammed out.
I think most crowd would be spent after that performance, but those at Thalia Hall. If anything it only ramped up the excitement for Lillie West and Lala Lala. As the green lava lamp at the center of the stage was surrounded by West and the rest of her band, the crowd cheered on what was going to be an excellent show. A similar, otherworldly digital art that has graced the cover of I Want the Door to Open and the “Utopian Planet” music video glowed bright behind West as she gently started her set. Her ethereal sounds are hard not to fall in love with live and as soon as “Diver” hit, the crowd jumps shook Thalia Hall with another surge of energy. Lala Lala proceeded to play the entirety of I Want the Door to Open and it was a grand experience. The album has a certain quality to it when you go through all it’s songs in one session. The album’s complexity is felt so strongly throughout, with songs pointing to hidden themes with the song’s ornate lyrics.
I Want the Door to Open is full of local musicians lending their prowess to West vision, and while most weren’t able to join her (like Ben Gibbard which she kept jokingly begging the crowd not expect him, “He’s in Seattle”), her masterful band did more than enough to bring these songs to life. However Kara Jackson did return to the stage for “Straight & Narrow”. The collaboration between the two was as wonderful as you’d expect, their voices raising the other up.
Before “Utopia Planet”, West once again joked with the crowd, immediately removing the veil of a final song and the encore that follows it. She promised to be back to play some older songs and she delivered. Lala Lala finished of her quite phenomenal set with the first song of her second album “Destroyer”. Despite the tracks downtrodden nature, with imagery of broken hearts, violence, and black holes; the track came off louder and more explosive than it appears on Lamb. Every pulsing moment of the chorus just felt like a jolt of electricity rushing through the crowd as Thalia Hall’s floor rumbled. Lillie West’s somber voice as she leads into the lofty chants of “You are the reason my heart broke behind my back” felt like a moment of catharsis. All the