Mazzy Star kicks off tour at Los Angeles’ Wiltern (11/7)

CoS_MazzyStar feat

The Mazzy Star live experience is a dark one, and I mean that literally. Once the lights went out at the start of their set, Los Angeles’ Wiltern remained an abyssal black hole — illuminated by a few candles, a screen with moody, elemental projections, and a dim violet hue. The effect was akin to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s stage setup.

Most fans who’ve been paying attention over the years should recall that Hope Sandoval has a form of stage fright that warrants obscured performances and a lack of photography. This time around, the necessary shroud of mystery spawned a mesmerizing live spectacle that complemented their similarly subtle sound. Unfortunately, so many attendees ignored the signs requesting a moratorium on photos that when Sandoval finally addressed the crowd, it was to admonish them for the ridiculous flashes.

Mazzy Star - LA

The thought of a band replicating a sound as fragile as their unique brand of minimalist dream pop reads like a recipe for disaster, but Mazzy Star accomplished the unlikely task with precision. Classics such as “Halah” interweaved with new favorites like “Lay Myself Down”, tied together by an ethereal blend of delicate vocals, pedal steel work, and acoustic strums, all underscored by mysterious visuals. For the crowd pleasing mega-hit “Fade Into You”, couples swayed and embraced, rounding first, second, and at least one instance of third base as if completely hypnotized by Sandoval’s dreamy vocals and tambourine shake.

The entire evening felt like an extended buildup to guitarist David Roback’s noisy experiments, transforming Seasons of Your Day highlight “Flying Low” into a thunderous set-closing climax. For their encore, Roback relaxed his fingers amidst the faint beauty of “California”, only to let them run wild during “So Tonight That I Might See”. Although many in attendance didn’t deserve the privilege, Mazzy Star nevertheless dazzled for the sold out hometown crowd.

Look on Down from the Bridge
Cry, Cry
In the Kingdom
Lay Myself Down
Ride it On
Does Someone Have Your Baby Now?
Into Dust
She Hangs Brightly
Fade Into You
Blue Flower
Flying Low
So Tonight That I Might See

Artwork by Steven Fiche

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