Rifflandia: Austra

In a live setting, Austra's songs are even more desperate, moody and urgent

The Alix Gooldin Hall was obviously built with acoustics in mind. The hall’s vaulted ceilings provide the necessary gestational space for even the largest and most complex auditory blessings to bloom. Indeed, a vast range of octaves permanently populate the hall, physically manifested in the long cylinders of the Church’s old pipe organ, which provides an ominous backdrop to all who are fortunate enough to play there.

And yet, on Thursday night, the hall’s vast architecture was overwhelmed by Austra’s haunting pedigree of post-disco sounds. Lead singer Katie Stelmanis’ ethereal voice spilled out onto Pandora, offering those who make that street their home a fleeting moment of solace while inviting the more privileged, wristband-clad concert goers inside.

Flanked by two background singers, Stelmanis’ led her entranced audience through captivating renditions of songs from 2011’s Feel It Break. In a live setting, the songs were even more desperate, moody and urgent. Austra’s show, which started just past midnight, was at once a benediction to the first night of Rifflandian festivities and a taste of the numinous yet to come.

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