Written by Aly Westrin
Saturday night, Lincoln Hall filled with a crowd eager to see the indie-folk, singer-songwriter, Billie Marten—one of my favorite artists to see live. It was a night of melodic harmonies, heartfelt lyricism, and witty banter.
As the opening act, Olivia Kaplan set just the right mood, performing pretty melodies and the thoughtful lyrics off her debut album, Tonight Turns to Nothing, as well as some of her latest work, the single “American Air,” and my personal favorite, her single, “Sirens.” She has a little bit of a country twang to her music. Just enough to give her music a unique edge. I hope to see her in Chicago again soon!
For me, Billie was my “covid artist.” I’m not sure if everyone relates to having a one of these.
Basically her song “La Lune” popped up on my Spotify recommendations right as everything began to hit the fan. Classes moved online, dorms shut down, and most of us were living back home again. Her simple melodies and profound, yet relatable lyrics made me feel seen and connected during a time that many of us were lacking connection. So, that’s why I call her my “covid artist” and that’s why seeing her live is always a big deal for me.
I don’t think I’m alone on having a “covid artist,” as I brought this up to a new friend I made at the show, Maiden, and she agreed on having her own covid artist—hers was the band Palace. Our conversation quickly took a halt as the lights dimmed and the crowd went silent with anticipation.
First, Billie’s bandmates–Olivia Kaplan, who assists on vocals and guitar during Billie’s set, and Andrew Maguire–hit the stage. The crowd cheered as the two tuned a bit and then Billie hit the stage.
Billie wasted no time, jumping right into her First song, “This is How we Move.” The crowd swayed and sang along with Billie. She then went right into her second song, a personal favorite off the new album, “Just Us.” It’s a song guaranteed to bring up the energy and it got the crowd dancing. Billie, then, takes some time to talk to the crowd. Exchanging banter and sharing that she’s been living out of a bag for two months, but that she loves Chicago.
Leading into her next song, she asks the crowd if anyone is in love right now. The crowd cheers. She then asks if any of those cheering, are far away from the person they love right now. Only one person cheers to this sentiment. Billie responds by dedicating the song “Willow” to that single cheerer. I might not be in love, but I am a hopeless romantic, so “Willow” is a favorite for me.
After a few songs, Kaplan and Maguire leave the stage. This starts the solo portion of Billie’s performance. She asks the audience what song they’d like to hear—the crowd goes a little crazy, simultaneously yelling every song Billie hasn’t yet played. Billie jokes that she’s not listening to any of our suggestions and goes into performing her favorite song to play live, “Vanilla Baby.” She performs a few more songs during this solo time, mostly songs from her 2019 album, Feeding Seahorses by Hand.
As the two come back to the stage, Billie says she has a few more songs for us. She asks the crowd if it’s a full moon tonight. The crowd shares that, yes, it is a full moon—and it’s a new moon in Gemini—which just so happens to be Billie’s sun sign. If you couldn’t tell, this led Billie into performing “La Lune.” The song that I guiltily chanted when Billie asked for requests.
Overall, I could not recommend seeing Billie Marten live more! I was truly in awe by her performance. She sounds exactly like she does in my headphones, which is sometimes a rarity and I admire this rawness in all of her music. I hope every one has the chance to appreciate this live.
Follow Billie Marten on Instagram and Check out her Spotify below!