Last night, singer-songwriter Mary Lambert performed at the Hub in a free concert for students, sponsored by Associated Students, UCSB Women, Gender and Sexual Equity, Queer Commission and the Hub.
While most well-known for her collaboration with the rapper Macklemore on his song “Same Love,” a song that promotes marriage equality and LGBTQ rights, Lambert had previously gained prominence for both her music and spoken-word poetry, which often touches on emotionally charged subject matter. Lambert’s identity as an openly lesbian woman, in addition to her turbulent childhood, contribute to her status as a role model and source of inspiration for many young women.
Lambert’s performance at the Hub incorporated several of her original songs, as well as two spoken word pieces and a smattering of personal anecdotes intended to amuse the audience. The performance was prefaced with a warning of “real talk” and an invitation to any audience member who may have difficulty with the subject matter to speak with some of the trained advocates on sight.
The singer’s stage presence was personable and endearing, and often self-effacing in her humor, explaining how her grandma is decidedly unimpressed with her achievements and how she broke down in tears at the VMAs after a minor confrontation with someone who stole her seat.
Lambert’s performances ranged from blissful and in love, to distraught and introspective, to angry and powerful. She explores love and heartbreak, sexual assault and discomfort in one’s own skin. In “I Know Girls,” a spoken-word piece exploring the experience of being a woman, she lamented how “women like us don’t shoot, we swallow pills, still wanting to be beautiful at the morgue.”
“Our bodies deserve more than to be war-torn and collateral,” Lambert said. “Offering this fuckdom as a pathetic means to say ‘I only know how to exist when I’m wanted.’”
In between songs, Lambert explained that she hoped her performances would make audience members feel safe, comfortable and loved.
“I feel really naked up here, and I hope that you guys just feel very hugged and warm right now,” Lambert said.
Many of Lambert’s songs explored her sexuality, as one might expect upon hearing her chorus in “Same Love.” Before covering one love anthem, Lambert explained how the song spoke to her as a young woman becoming acquainted with her lesbian identity.
“I heard this song on the radio, and I thought it was lesbian love anthem and I was really excited because I had just come out and thought everything was as gay as I was,” Lambert said, laughing. “But turns out it was just a love song written by a man with a tiny voice.”
Overall, the performance was touching, humorous and emotionally powerful. Lambert made audience members laugh and cry and opened her heart to a crowd that was nothing if not ready to soak it up.
This story is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.