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  • Writer's pictureKaralynn Cromack

Ultrapure: A Briston Maroney Concert Review

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of catching the Ultrapure tour at Thalia Hall. Not only was it breathtaking just to finally check out Thalia for its gorgeous, intimate space and embellished architecture, but it re-solidified my love for concerts as a separate experience. 


The concert showcases Maroney’s latest album, Ultrapure. It has been an honor to have discovered this artist in my early high school days and have a seat on the ride of their musical progression. Carnival can be credited as the EP that garnered the recognition Maroney deserved, with the hit "Freakin’ Out On the Interstate." Much of the artist's music falls under the same sound of Carnival, with plenty of epic guitars, garage rock, and folky influences. But over time, Maroney has truly mastered their craft and excelled in their own sound. Ultrapure has a much more pop coming-of-age experimental beat to it while still carrying the same acoustic elements to the table for loyal listeners to enjoy. A great balance of slow, reflective ballads and pieces to play while with friends in the car has made this my personal favorite of all their work.


While I’ve long been a fan of Briston, this show served as a conduit for me to listen to Phoebe Go, the opener. What a stunning voice. Phoebe’s set was full of moody glowing lights and captivated me with just her and a guitar. My only regret is that I didn’t memorize all the lyrics ahead of time. Although I listened to her album and found her melodies calming, the raw authenticity of her sound in person blew my expectations out of the water. To put it simply, I saw Phoebe Go, and believe me, Phoebe WENT.


Pheobe Go


As for Briston’s set afterward, the stage props set the perfect tone. It felt like I took too much Benadryl and then went to a monochrome funhouse, which was perfect. Opening with their song Body, the crowd jumped, guitars blared, and hair flipped. From there on out, I lost myself in the show. 


When it comes to lighting and visuals, other than the props, nothing was over the top. This is really a beautiful balance as well. The music stands on its own, complimented by some good light, maybe, but the performance is really the gem. Tucked within the songs everyone loved, there were so many additional instrumental variations and new guitar solos to keep everything exciting. It’s one of those things that makes a live show special: nobody is going to get the same show you did. 


Briston Maroney


The pacing kept things fresh as well, with slow, vocal-centered songs refreshing the blocks of pop and rock, and old album favorites layered in to keep people engaged. In between songs, the speakers played audio collages of what might’ve been poetry. Something philosophical to set the scene. But the best part of the pacing was how the audience kept up. I was able to sneak around the venue to cover all my angles, and for the last third of the show, I ended up on the balcony. I was initially skeptical and thought it wouldn’t be worth it to leave my spot so close to the stage. Boy, was I wrong. It’s very easy to put so much focus on the artist and on our listening experience, but I could’ve shed a tear just watching the reactions of the listeners below. Some cried, and others grinned; a couple held each other, dancing. Everyone in the room had created meaning through someone else’s lyrics but came together to sing and celebrate all alike. 


Thank you, Phoebe Go, and thank you, Briston Maroney, for creating music that facilitates creating meaning.


The Crowd


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