11 months ago, on a rainy Saturday afternoon, I stumbled onto what can no less be described as some serious sunshine at the now deceased Knitting Factory in New York City. Donning the stage, at Brooklyn Vegan’s CMJ Day Party, in front of a crowd no larger than 50 strong, was an incredibly gorgeous young blond woman. She was accompanied by a small flashing light box sort of thingy — which I later discovered is called a Tenori-on, and quickly and quietly introduced herself as Little Boots. A quick touch of the flashing light box sort of thingy followed, and what happened next were easily the most infectious sounds and tantalizing vocals I had heard in some time. And to think, this was coming from a young woman who was also exuding a bit of nervousness and unrefined skills. Oh, the possibilities were endless for this Little Boots… already so talented, but with so much more potential to be realized.
Five months later, in March during South by Southwest, I had another opportunity to see Little Boots. The differences between the two performances were astronomical. Gone was the stillness behind the microphone, replaced by some movements, and dare I say, crowd interactions. The subdued vocals had succumbed to an air of confidence. She even had a legitimate backing ensemble to provide a bit of depth to those beats and that electricity. A transformation had begun, a star was being born.
In the months that followed her performance in Austin, TX, the 25-year-old Blackpool, U.K. native more properly known as Victoria Hesketh, has seemingly exploded onto the map. Her debut album, Hands, hit #5 on the U.K. charts. She played Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, and Beastival to massive crowds. Hell, her song “New In Town” found its way into Megan Fox’s upcoming film, Jennifer’s Body.
11 months after CMJ and six months after SXSW, Boots took to New York’s Bowery Ballroom for what was a short headlining trek designed to better acquaint Hesketh to audiences here in the states ahead of the U.S. release of Hands, expected early next year.
However, the sold out audience singing along and dancing to the beat proved that no introduction was needed. “I wasn’t sure what to expect since most of these songs aren’t out in the states yet,” Hesketh told the crowd mid-way through her performance before offering a smile. “But you seem to know them all anyway.”
Instead, what resulted was a 45-minute performance that reflected why, despite the fact that Boots has only released a four-track EP, she has already garnered an adoring fanbase. The reason, you see, is that aforementioned transformation is now complete.
Taking the stage wearing an elegant blue sequin dress, Little Boots immediately showed a swagger that can only be explained by months of acclaim and festival appearances. The quiet and withheld girl of October has become a full-fledged star. And while she did not realize this in March, she does now… and it showed on Wednesday night.
Boots performance at Bowery was nothing less than dazzling. From the opening chords of “Meddle” to the closing beats of “Stuck on Repeat”, the beats were heavy, the vocals strong and confident, her backing band tight (being a star gets you a new synthesizer don’t you know), and a presence that made blinking virtually impossible. There was improvisation (“Mathematics” has evolved into an epic live masterpiece). There were lights (bright flashing ones!). There was a spectacle (resulting from all of the above), and most importantly, there was a star.
Ladies and gentlemen, Little Boots has arrived.