The only thing worse than a heckler is no one going to your show. Any number of circumstances could hinder the number of people that go to a performance. When I used to regularly host pub trivia, no amount of posters or Facebook invites could get people in seats. That said, I was under the impression that Cold Specks had a following. She worked with Swans on the relatively massive album To Be Kind, she played the high profile Afropunk Fest earlier this year (with Ovrld favorites BLXPLTN). But all of the publicity in the world couldn’t bring people out. Besides myself and my boyfriend, there were possibly twenty people in the audience for Cold Specks at the Mohawk.
It should have been a sign that the show was going to have low attendance due to its delegation to the inside stage. But even with that, I’ve seen shows with huge artists fill up the inside. Perfect Pussy, Owen Palette, even local favorites Sphynx have played to large audiences. And Cold Specks deserves a huge crowd.
Supporting her incredible sophomore record Neuroplasticity with a full band, the lack of a crowd definitely brought the angry undertones of the record to full blast. Her grumbling voice grumbled less with her trademark desperation and more with frustration. To tour over the country, to have two bands open for you, to have all of this supposed hype only to be performing to a room of eighteen people would piss me off too.
With Neuroplasticity, Cold Specks moves away from the quiet defiance that filled her debut, I Predict a Graceful Explosion to a more abrasive sound. The funeral march of album opener “A Broken Memory” was performed about three songs in to her rather long set, though if the full band played with her on stage in the very beginning with the black parade that is that song, a much more dramatic night would have transpired after. But that’s the beauty of Cold Specks. She’s dramatic without being showy. Take her breakout “hit” “Blank Maps,” which builds and builds to a chorus in which she answers the repeated statement of “I am” with the simple “a goddamn believer.” She could be anything in the world, but yet she chooses to be a believer. A goddamn believer.
I’m afraid Cold Specks will never ascend to the level of stardom that she deserves. Maybe the gritty, introspective soul singer became gauche the second Adele won an Oscar, but who said that once a trend stops being cool that there can’t still be incredible music made within it? Blood Orange still makes ’80’s as fuck music even though everyone wants to be Aaliyah right now. Or maybe Cold Specks is just about to break, and I’ll have the lucky story of seeing her in a small venue with a handful of other people.
Dylan Garsee is a freelance writer/bingo enthusiast currently living in Austin, TX. He is a writer for Previously.tv and a member of theLoser City collective and used to avoid reading comics while writing for Comics Bulletin. An avid record collector, Dylan can mostly be seen at Waterloo Records, holding that one God Speed You! Black Emperor record he can’t afford, crying. You can follow him on Twitter, where he horrifies celebrities as @garseed.