Remi Wolf Changed the Way I Think About Live Music

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Concerts are back, and I willingly allow ticket prices to put a dent in my savings account. My most recent whim sent me to see Remi Wolf at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

When I bought my ticket, I knew two or three Remi Wolf songs. Despite my limited knowledge, I had high expectations for her. Online she had been praised as an excellent performer, and I had a wildly misplaced hope that Dominic Fike would make an appearance as he had at the New York City show. (He didn’t, but honestly, I didn’t even notice.)

The day of the concert, I listened to her debut album, Juno, to get a feel for what I was in for. It was good, and definitely what I expected based on what I knew of her.

My friend and I got there early, waited in line, met a girl who had Euphoria-inspired makeup and wanted her picture taken, and then we rushed inside to get as close to the front as possible.

Then Remi Wolf came out and blew every expectation I had out of the water.

Her energy exploded into the room, possessing the crowd. She jumped and ran and danced across the stage. Everything movement was executed with such natural confidence; I was transfixed by her performance. I didn’t want it to end, and I soaked up every second of it.

If she was following a script, I couldn’t tell. There was a nonchalant way in which she carried on with the show — taking breaks on the patchwork couch and giving her band their moments at the front of the stage.

Her rendition of “Crazy” by Gnarles Barkley and “Electric Feel” by MGMT brought back a nostalgia I didn’t know I had. Those songs were identifiable by everyone, even people who didn’t know Remi Wolf, and created moments where everyone was singing together and enjoying that moment.

But the thing that got me the most was how raw her voice was live in comparison to the songs I’ve streamed by her. Some of her music has autotuning, but after seeing her live I understood it was for character effect more than lack of talent. There is no lack of talent with Remi Wolf.

One example of this is when considering her song, “Quiet on Set.” Live, the song was loud and rowdy. After the concert, I listened to the album again and found the recorded version to be toned down, not as authentic. Not in a bad way — the song was still added to Spotify and listened to on repeat for weeks — but in a way far different from how I had come to know the artist.

At one point during the show, Remi Wolf hopped off stage and jumped onto the barrier where I was standing; in a trace, I reached out for her. It was one of those times you forget everything around you and what day it is and the fact you’re at a concert hall. For a brief moment, everything melted away. Then she got back up on stage and everything snapped back into focus.

Now, I long for the day she puts out a live album (if ever) because of how much I loved her music performed with me a few feet away.

If you are like me and a concert connoisseur, then maybe you have come to this realization long before I did; I am going to say it anyway as if I am the first to discover it: seeing an artist live before knowing their music gives you a greater appreciation for their work.

In other words, if you know one or two songs by someone and they have (relatively) affordable concert tickets, buy them and go. Odds are you’ll like them more after and then have a new favorite artist.

If you want to see Remi Wolf, she is still touring. Go buy a ticket! And if you do, come back and let me know your thoughts.

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Lilly Thumm

Lilly Thumm

I read. I write. I write about reading. I read about writing. Sometimes, I read others’ writing and call it “freelancing.”