The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

Mythical Magical Faye Webster

Senior Arts Reporter Sofia Hrycyszyn covers Faye Webster’s takeover of the Riviera.
Faye+Webster+loses+herself+in+the+music.
Sofia Hrycyszyn
Faye Webster loses herself in the music.

The stage lit up to reveal a depiction of an armor-suited Faye Webster sitting atop a giant rock. Her brown hair was splayed out around her head and tendrils of red smoke wrapped around her body. Stagehands dragged out plaster casts of igneous-looking rocks, arranging them on stage and adding depth to the tableau. The rising indie pop artist was born and raised in Atlanta, and her immersion in the Atlanta music scene inspired the elements of R&B, jazz, and rock in her work. With the release of her 2019 album, Atlanta Millionaires Club, Webster rose in popularity, especially among teenage indie fans. The Riviera Theatre was packed with a sea of young people in denim jackets waiting patiently for Webster.

Bathed in soft blue light, Webster opened with “But Not Kiss,” an angsty piece with lines like “I want to see you in my dreams/ but then forget.” The confusing and conflicting desires expressed in the lyrics are accentuated by shifts in tone marked by alternating keys with guitar. Webster was supported by a group of instrumentalists including Annie Leeth on the sax, Charles Garner on the drums, and her brother Jack Webster on the pedal steel.

Webster looked relaxed in an oversized gray smock over a striped collared long sleeve shirt. She’s quite small and her wrists looked uncomfortable yet practiced in their contortions around the neck of her guitar, but her presence on stage is commanding. Swaying with the beat, she melted into the music and her supporting musicians while clearly remaining the center of it all. Her look matches her high-pitched, almost (delightfully) nasal voice, which is often airy and mythical. As exemplified in “Right Side of My Neck,” Webster’s vocals are satisfying in that most of her songs have one line or verse that is absolutely beautiful, and that key part of the song is repeated with slight variations, allowing the listener to enjoy their favorite part repeatedly. The repetition of words gives the illusion of simplicity; Webster’s music is easy to sing along with but complex in its instrumentals.

The lights dimmed as a jazzy drum and keyboard beat signaled “Jonny.” Webster abandoned her guitar and made her way to the keyboard under a bright white spotlight. With her head thrown back and her palms up, notes from the saxophone floated over the audience and lingered with Webster’s slow and pleading voice, more sing-songy than singing. “Jonny,” with its mixture of slow saxophone and soft vocals, leaves a powerful impression; it might be both her only real love song and her saddest work.

After “Jonny,” the lights turned green for what Webster dubbed “a new song.” Instead, the electronic jazzy whistle of “Eterna City” from Pokémon Diamond filled the room. In between songs, someone in the audience would call out, “I love you, Faye!” only to be one-upped by someone else: “I love you more!” As “Eterna City” came to a close, Webster reached out to accept a gift: a Charmander, an orange, lizard-like Pokémon. Her fans were calm but dedicated to Webster and clearly knew her tastes. Webster’s performance at the Riviera was wholesome, beautiful, and relaxing: the ideal first concert for your teenage daughter while being an enchanting musical experience for all ages.

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