by Janii Yazon
The ever eccentric Melanie Martinez made her long-awaited return to Boston on Tuesday night, March 28. She performed to a venue filled to the brim; the House of Blues shook from the impatient excitement of all her fans, “Little Bows” or “crybabies.”
Opening that night was Alvarez Kings, an indie group from England. Boston was the band’s last stop on the tour, but instead of showing signs of exhaustion, the group put on a solid performance. While the other members certainly had laudable performances, such as guitarist Sean Parkin’s unwavering harmonies on top of the fierce guitar riffs, lead singer Simon Peter Thompson radiated with a charisma that attracted the audience, pulling those in the pit closer and closer to the stage.
The band performed all four of the songs off their new EP, Fear to Fall (“Run From You,” “Tell-Tale Heart,” “Tortured & The Tears”) as well as an acoustic rendition of the titular song, “Fear to Fall,” that showcased Thompson’s soaring, steady vocals. Alvarez Kings’ guitar-heavy style made them an unexpected choice to open up for the indie-pop act fans had gathered for, but nevertheless the English band helped fans enjoy the still unbearable wait before the main act. Overall, Alvarez Kings surprised the crowd with their intense immersion into their music, built upon emotive guitar melodies and with the group’s impressive vocals.
Once Martinez’s set intro began playing, fans roared, urging the singer out. The staging matched the unsettling, perverted innocence that rules the world of Crybaby, with enlarged building blocks spelling out the album’s name. Martinez emerged from an oversized crib to begin the show, starting with “Crybaby” and working her way through the setlist in order of album appearance, staying loyal to the Crybaby narrative.
Fans described her quirky dancing as “mesmerizing,” and it absolutely was; there was an air of seduction surrounding her movements, though she also emanated an unapproachable aura. However, it was obvious that there was something lacking from Martinez’s performance – her usually raspy, effortless voice was breaking at every song’s peak. Martinez apologized to the crowd for her voice, saying “I don’t know why, but it is just gone.” After she promised to the crowd that she’s “trying” despite her condition, she powered through the majority of the set, albeit assisted by the crowd’s roaring.
The dedication of the fans was seen in their memorization of her songs’ cues, such as the babbling in “Alphabet Boy” and the piercing shriek in “Pity Party.” Whereas these would embarrass people in other spaces, Martinez gave everyone a night where weirdness was encouraged. She introduced “Training Wheels” as a love song, but every song seemed to become one, a duet between the fans and the amazed Martinez.
Martinez also took the opportunity to explain what had happened the night before in Washington, D.C. Video and personal accounts surfaced online showing Martinez getting upset at fans yelling while she explained the personal, inspirational meaning behind “Mrs. Potato Head,” a fan favorite. The confidence and dominance she displayed in her performance disappeared as she opened up to the fans. Here was another instance where it was easy to see, from Martinez’s vulnerability and honesty as well as the fans’ shouts of encouragement, that there’s a very human, intimate connection between the singer and her fanbase.
This relationship showed again at the end of the night when, after a fiery performance of “Cake,” Martinez once again apologized. This time, it was because she didn’t have the vocal strength to perform her encore. Instead of being disappointed, fans wished her good luck getting better, and Martinez promised to “definitely come back soon.”
Overall, even with a sore throat and on the second-to-last stop on this tour, Melanie Martinez put on a spectacular performance that left the streets of Boston filled with satisfied fans, humming their favorite songs, wearing painted tears on their cheeks.