On June 18, 2015, Eglė Sirvydytė and Elena Neniškytė performed in Liverpool Bar – a Vilnius venue famous for supporting mainly rock and indie bands. This time, however, the pub was filled with slightly different sounds. Eglė Sirvydytė is popular for her slow, poetic, music. Meanwhile Elena Neniškytė, known to the wider public as Umiko, sets her voice against a background of electronic music.
As I came into Liverpool Bar, the warm and relaxing atmosphere was what first caught my attention. Friendly bartenders were making drinks under soft yellow lights, while small groups of people were gathering around small tables under different coloured lightbulbs. Soon after the doors opened, Eglė Sirvydytė came on stage holding a guitar and greeted the audience with a big smile.I settled in, surrounded by just few people, but as the singer exclaimed, there were no strangers – only friends present. Even for those of us who were not actually friends with any of the performers, it felt homely. The stage was lit with video projections of stars and night-time landscapes. Everyone was sitting quietly and ready to let the music soothe their souls.
Eglė started with a slow melancholic song on guitar, which she dedicated to her grandfather, who recently passed away. She sang so soulfully, emotionally and honestly, tears appeared in her eyes. However, as she wiped them away with a smile, she explained they were tears of happiness – it was a song to appreciate a loved one’s life.
Between songs, the artist joked and interacted with the audience. As she brushed away her tears, she joked about her smudging ecologic mascara, which revealed her views on animals. She continued to speak about the matter of animal rights, and revealed during the process of becoming vegetarian, she had a dream about a big town in China where tigers with human faces came to visit her. A song inspired by this dream followed.Following this number, Eglė picked up her guitar again, and announced the next number on her setlist would be about love. The song that followed was active and loud, with passionate lyrics – all of which were met with rapturous applause. According to the singer, if the audience all enjoyed this track so much, then they must all be in love in some way.
Eglė wrapped up her performance with a piano song about feeling small. Her soft vocal contrasted with energetic piano music. At this point, the visualisations of starry skies and vast landscapes were the most appropriate, as they made us in the audience feel small, albeit in a beautiful way.
On the whole, Eglė’s performance was personal, quiet, slow, and emotional, but also energetic. Her voice was very strong and deep, and her intonation gave the English lyrics a distinctive sound. At times, the piano or guitar, whichever she used, took over, and that’s when Liverpool Bar’s superb acoustics really stood out.Eglė finished by saying she was looking forward to hearing Elena play, and so were we. The quietness and small size of the crowd was actually a plus, as it enhanced the feelings I was experiencing during the whole of her performance. Her music was very personal.
As for Elena, I’ve been a fan since I saw her live for the first time in 2013. This time was different, however. The previous concerts took place in clubs, while here I was cosily sipping a cup of tea.
Like Eglė, Elena also interacted well with the crowd – she was smiling broadly, joking around and mused on random things. After starting the concert with a dreamy sketch, she went on to say, the person she spends most of her time with these days – her little daughter – likes dancing to her music. Elena happily exclaimed, “that must be a good sign!” The song that followed, was new and un-rehearsed, but judging by the reaction of the audience, it was well received.Later during the concert, Elena presented a song called Mermaids, which began with sweet pop sounds. As the song developed, it contrasted with the singer’s distorted vocals. After performing it, Elena happily exclaimed, “it’s so pleasant to play something cheerful, as music usually turns out sad.” Appropriately, dark and slow notes followed Elena’s words, but when her voice tied in with the music, it reverted between the dreamy and the dark.
That switching from one extreme to another remained Elena’s style throughout. She was constantly surprising the audience with changes in tone and sound, and this element of the unknown was reflected in the crowd’s shouts and claps, which kept getting louder and longer after each number.
One of the later songs was introduced as “when you dream you wake up naked in a field on your own”, which prompted a number of the more well oiled members of the audience to get up and dance. The song began romantically but again – became more active, and the spacey sounds as well as Elena’s dreamy voice were seemingly guiding the listeners through the dark industrial rhythms.I found myself hoping the performances would last longer, because this was the kind of music to be enjoyed all night, dancing or not, with your eyes closed, being taken through dreamy soundscapes. Sadly, just as I was thinking that, Elena said the concert was nearly over and presented a song “with the most positive emotion” she had ever created, even if “doesn’t sound pretty.” Sharp industrial, and even hip-hop-like beats filled the venue. They kept up the energy while her voice sustained the dreaminess.
I was left with a pleasant musical discovery in terms of Eglė, and for Elena, a very happy re-discovery. I also experienced many positive emotions. My only wish was the performances lasted longer as their atmosphere, also when tied into the venue, were very positive. The singers’ warm remarks on their personal lives and their shared thoughts on life, helped establish the very personal aspect of both musicians’ work.
Eglė Sirvydytė’s band mmpsuf – http://www.mmpsuf.lt/
Elena Neniškytė on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Umiko-little-bird/229508000443645
Elena Neniškytė on Bandcamp – http://umikolittlebird.bandcamp.com/
Photos by Evaldas Jo