Halloween is always an interesting affair at 9:30 Club. Costume contests are held before the headliner and bands join in the fun and dress up in costume (like Capital Cities in pajamas or Magic Man in pumpkin outfits). Norwegian singer AURORA did no such thing, but instead, she offered something even more compelling: a hauntingly beautiful and powerful performance that had some in tears.
20-year-old Aurora Aksnes is reserved when speaking, but when she sings, she shows a youthful exuberance that is matched by few musicians of her age. She can convey fear, joy, loss, and more in her emotive expressions and in her powerful voice. An acoustic rendition of “Murder Song” especially left the crowd in stunned silence and awe. Not only did she give an emotional performance, she also wasn’t afraid to show off her personality. In-between songs, she cracked awkward jokes (which she was eager to admit), struck up back-and-forth conversations with fans in the crowd, and admitted that she was feeling under the weather due to a cold. But if there was any sign of sickness, she was easily able to cast it away and gave it her all from start to finish.
Halfway through the set, AURORA dedicated a song and gave a signed snare to a dedicated fan of hers, a girl named Katie. Moments like that demonstrated why her fans feel such a personal connection to her: her honest and fragile lyrics, unpretentious demeanor, and willingness to reach out to her fans in person and on social media has made her an idol to teenagers worldwide. As for the rest of us? We got to witness a star in the making, one that is unfettered by a top-40 radio mentality and has a thundering presence that is comparable to the likes of Florence and the Machine.
Dan Croll opened for AURORA, playing selections from his 2014 debut album Sweet Disarray as well as tracks from his upcoming sophomore album. In lieu of a drummer, Croll and his two bandmates switched between guitars, keyboards, and percussion instruments like triangles and shakers. The melodies and three-part harmonies throughout the set were sublime, as were the retooled percussion arrangements. The set was a pleasantly mellow, yet strong performance that breathed new life into popular songs like “From Nowhere” and “Home”. Croll’s as-yet-untitled second album will be released in 2017.