When I told people that I was going to see Miya Folick most people simply responded ‘Who?’ Her first album had come out this year and had not troubled the sharp end of any album of the year playlists. Personally I enjoyed it, but it didn’t stand out.
As a live act Miya Folick is a different beast. Backed by a three-piece band who look like they could’ve been straight from the early 2000s indie rock years, everything started to make more sense. The heavy guitar and drums meant that that the louder songs packed an extra punch, allowing the quieter moments of the set to stand out. Miya’s voice is what made the real difference, though. On record it seems dull compared to her vibrant performance. Miya switched from ferociously filling the room, to intimate moments were she drew you close, often in the same song, and particularly in the show’s set piece Give It To Me.
Defining her music style is hard, but she falls within the pop category. Maybe the genre of alternative pop is the most appropriate, but this doesn’t do her justice as it seems to be a catch-all for anything that is not all over the charts.
Her songs run the full gamut from quiet, emotional, and musically spare, to the times when Miya plays the guitar herself to drive forward a brash punk rock moment. This is best exemplified by Thingamajig, a highpoint of the show. In this song, Miya is actively pleading with the audience to stop valuing others’ opinions about them over their own and wrestling with the inner neurosis that accompanies impostor syndrome. These touching moments were quickly washed away, as the instant the song finished it transitioned into a wall of distortion. Miya then picked up her guitar and led her band through the raucous and unapologetic Trouble Adjusting, in which she, tongue-in-cheek, exclaims that ‘this song is shit’. The set had obviously been carefully crafted to drag the audience along a specific path.
Moving around the stage she engaged with the crowd in a way that felt very genuine. At one point she declared that the mic lead was not long enough for her roaming, and that she wanted to be like Britney. However, Britney would not be able to live up to Miya’s raw emotional intensity and honesty. It really seemed like she left everything out there on stage.
The only criticism I could level is that I lost interest during the encore (which is a rare thing in itself I think). There was a pair of middling songs that seemed to meander around, but not really fit with her strengths. Especially after the main set came to an end with the powerhouse Give It To Me; it all just felt anticlimactic.
Playing in the Hall at Elsewhere was Miya’s biggest headline show to date. Despite that, she was completely at ease, and if she can translate some more of this live energy into her next album, she will be playing much bigger venues next time I see her.
Words by Matt Paul.