NEW YORK, October 22 – Based on a recommendation, I went to see Jane Lui’s performance at the Rockwood Music Hall. Lui, a recent internet phenom, has been known as one of the more notable independent musical acts in the San Francisco scene. Unlike past generations of musicians, her career was born out of the internet and takes full advantage of powerful marketing tools like youtube and social media networks. Through a spirited digital DIY campaign, she has carefully garnered a pretty loyal following making her internet famous.
Despite her Hong Kong upbringing, Lui’s sound is a very big departure from the highly produced Canto-pop songs that she used to admired as a child. Moreover, she has a very straight forward approach to melody and an honest tone in her lyrics. I especially enjoyed her percussive piano playing style and smokey vocals. It’s a particularly dangerous bluesy-folk musical mixture. Her sound is reminiscent of other singer-songwriters like Tori Amos or Joni Mitchell.
At Lui’s first New York gig, I arrived in the middle of her short set and only caught the last two songs. My tardiness was due to being unintentionally trapped in a subway car. It’s one of the problems living in a large metropolitan city that is heavily reliant on mass transportation. When I arrived at the tiny piano bar, the place was packed with an unusual grouping of people. I was having trouble finding a place to stand. In the strangeness of that Monday night, there was even one guy dressed in a Star Trek uniform. Jane Lui and trekkies? I didn’t get the connection between his cosplay and her indie music. Someone’s gotta fill me in…
Because I missed most of her first performance, I was lucky enough to catch Lui’s second performance as a part of the CMJ Music Marathon. It was held at the same venue on the following Friday. However, this time she had the opportunity to play on the larger second stage. The acoustics were definitely better in the larger setting. The crowd was a bit smaller for her mid afternoon performance, but this might be due to the short notice and the last minute nature of the booking.
Some of the highlights of the performance were “Firefly”, “Pigeon Woman”, and “Illusionist Boy”.
If you want to listen to Jane Lui’s latest recordings, check out her website for a free mp3 album download. You can also find more videos of Jane Lui's performance at the Blog's Youtube Channel.