Zola Jesus - Brooklyn Bowl, NYC - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Zola Jesus - Brooklyn Bowl, NYC

by Hiro Master Rating:8 Release Date:

Here's a question: can you roll a decent bowling score while enjoying a Zola Jesus show? Brooklyn Bowl might be the only place on earth to find out. It's an unlikely venue for the incarnation of 21-year-old Nike Roza Danilova - the jovial sound of strikes, spares and splits, and the neon lights of a good American bowling alley contrast awkwardly with the dark torment of Zola Jesus's electronic goth-pop. But Danilova works hard to keep the atmosphere on her side, coming out under a black hood and cloak to 'Run Me Out', before revealing a blonde mane of which Christina Aguilera would be proud.

This show is one of hundreds around the city that make up the CMJ music festival, a four-day live music extravaganza. It's typically New York, where devoted music fans kiss the summer goodbye, and immerse themselves in dive bars, dingy rock venues, and bowling alleys to try to catch a taste of something new and fresh.

Zola Jesus is certainly that. Stridulum II is her debut full-length release. The album's uniqueness unquestionably lies in Danilova's deep, growling vocals. Her operatic training results in a note-perfect performance, and enhances the intrigue of this petit figure. She bestrides the stage relentlessly, climbing speakers, throwing her hair impossibly around her microphone, and generally making it hard for the die-hard bowlers to ignore the intensity of what's going on behind them. Florence and the Machine would be proud.

But despite her best efforts, the show only really lifts during the set closer, 'Night'. It's only that track that really allows Danilova and her two-piece accompaniment to unleash, and only then do heads in the crowd start to nod. Unfortunately, it's too late, the scores have already been submitted, and a 147 becomes the highlight of the night, rather than the performance of genuinely interesting and talented singer.

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