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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist w/ over a decade of experience. Lover of good music, fringe movies, day baseball & chicken shawarma. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Review - Lights in Danbury, CT
Thursday, April 26, 2012

The most welcome problem an artist can face is adjusting to success. When it hits, a fan base grows, but figuring out how to alter the previous relationship one had with their fans, make it work for the larger fan base, and keep all the original fans happy, is a challenge. It’s a challenge Lights is proving, on her current tour, she’s up to the task of handling.

The first time I saw Lights was in 2009. At that point she was an up and coming synth-pop artist who only had an EP out. She won over fans with both her music and her effusive personality that naturally drew people to her. I saw her perform a second time in 2009 when she had her album release party for The Listening. The event was held at Mercury Lounge in NYC, which, despite the venue’s claim of having a capacity of 250, feels packed when there are 150 people in the house. On that night Lights made everyone feel like family. Her music, and smile, were like a warm hug and she made each individual feel as though she was performing, and talking to, just them. She managed to do this again in 2010 during an acoustic performance at Joe’s Pub (also in NYC). One of the perks of performing for a smaller audience is that ability to have almost a one on one connection with everybody there.

Fast-forward to the present and things have changed a bit. The venues Lights is now performing in are a lot bigger, as is her career. The Heirloom Arts Theatre in Danbury, CT, has a capacity of 350, and on Wednesday, April 18th, Lights would be performing to a packed house.

Now with double the set time (90 minutes instead of her previous 45), and more than double the amount of songs to choose from for her set list, Lights faces the challenge of making her fans feel as special as they did before, while having two to three times as many fans to please. On this night she started that task by opening with “Banner,” and being all smiles with her band, looking as though she was genuinely having a good time and didn’t want to be anywhere in the world other than right there on the stage, connecting with her audience.

Although slightly limited in terms of where she could move due to having to be on multiple sets of keyboards and synths, and at times an acoustic guitar, Lights made sure each section of the crowd was given an appropriate amount of attention, and although the mic breaks weren’t as plentiful, or as long, as they’ve been in the past, she still took time to have some personal interaction with the crowd. One especially nice moment came when she had a fan pass up a sign they had made, and she then thanked them and showed it to the crowd.

Throughout her 90 minute set Lights went through almost all of Siberia, including performing my personal favorite, “Flux and Flow,” and quite a bit of The Listening, again, performing my personal favorite, “Ice” (I still have no idea how she gets through the quick tongued rhyming part). She picked up her acoustic guitar a few times, and even told the story of how her label rejected the more dubstep influenced Siberia, which inspired her to put it out independently. As per norm, she created a very happy atmosphere, and positive vibe. I’ve now seen her live four times and I think it’s categorically impossible to attend one of her shows and not feel great.

After an hour and a half of music, and a lot of sweat and smiles, both from Lights and the crowd, it was clear that Lights still loves her audience, and makes an effort to continue to connect with them through more than just her music. That being said, it was also clear that she realizes there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to connect personally the way she used to.

Coincidentally, I was speaking with hip-hop artist F.Stokes about this artist-fan relationship just the other day, and how it has to grow and change with the artist as the artist grows in popularity, and he noted that when it comes to him, “I think it's more my fans being proud of me as opposed to being pissed off that I can't continue, or nurture, an intimate connection with most of them.”

Lights’ fans are proud of her, and her original fans are happy to have had that intimate connection when she was playing to smaller crowds. Everyone fully understands that’s no longer possible in quite the same way, including Lights, who smartly doesn’t try to do what she did for 150 fans for her new crowds of 350+. Simply put, it wouldn’t work. Intimacy, whether musical or personal, requires a cozy setting, and in the same way you wouldn’t hook up in a baseball stadium (unless the kiss-cam comes calling), an artist can’t have quite as much one on one interaction with their fans in a larger concert space. Lights fully understands this, and because of that understanding, continues to put on a heck of a show that is well worth the price of admission.

Lights may not be able to say hello to as many people, but she’s giving everyone twice as much music, and with just as much emotion, and positive vibes as before. Personally, I think it’s a pretty fair tradeoff, and in Danbury, the rest of the crowd seemed to agree.

For 15 pics from the show check out my Photo Album - Lights in CT.

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