Folk artist Lissie headlined the Singer/Songwriter Showcase Thursday night, a concert sponsored by A.S. Program Board.
The show also featured five local students who brought their A-game to The Hub as a modest crowd of fellow students and supporters cheered them on. Among the student performers were Mai Cao, Sean Malone, Emily Rath and Wyatt “Pineapple” Rogers. Matt Corona also played the annual event for the second year running.
Artsweek talked to Lissie before the show in a group interview. Lissie was rejected from UCSB when she applied some years back. Her excitement about the transition from playing for quarters outside of Colorado State University to headlining a show at UCSB was apparent.
To Lissie, the term singer/songwriter “denotes being a solo artist and just playing the guitar and singing on your own, but [it’s] really such a general term.”
Many of the student performers adhered to her definition with only Rath singing with a piano. Highlights included Cao’s quirky “true life” song about the sloppy I.V. nightlife (“The I.V. Song”) and Rogers’ imaginative reworking of Dido’s chorus in “Stan” set to evoke a hangover. Well-known student singer Rath also delivered her final UCSB performance with the touching original “Not Yours Anymore,” as she is set to graduate this year.
Lissie finally took to the stage after the student performers finished their sets.
She described her album Catching a Tiger as “a lot about heartbreak and longing to find my kind of place.” The mood of this captured the room along with her career-launching cover of Hank Williams’ “Wedding Bells.”
In between songs, Lissie joked about being too lazy to even tune her guitar because now people do that for her on tour. She’s not the one-woman-show she used to be.
“Have patience and always believe what you are doing is good,” Lissie said. “If you believe it long enough then other people will start to.”
An entrancing lull overcame the audience as Lissie performed her original “Here Before.” Though she stood still with guitar in hand on the small Hub stage, her voice worked the crowd. Lissie commanded full attention of the formerly ebbing and flowing crowd.
Her shining moment came with the inspiring, “Bully.” Lissie’s song radiated through the Hub with her passionate vocal performance and she made a few enthusiastic leaps as she rocked back and forth to the music. Eric Sullivan, her lead guitarist, tore up the stage during this number with a guitar solo that got the crowd cheering.
After playing her more well-known tracks, “Cuckoo” and “In Sleep,” Lissie left the stage before returning for her encore. She came out doing her favorite song, “Oh Mississippi,” then ended with audience favorite “Pursuit of Happiness,” a Kid Cudi cover the audience implored her to play during her set.
Describing her creative process in the pre-show interview, Lissie likened it to “therapy and completely emptying [her] subconscious.”
In the audience, we all felt that creative process come through her live performances. Though some didn’t stay for Lissie’s entire set, only wanting to hear “Pursuit of Happiness,” those who waited were not disappointed.