by Ian Smith
Samia was one of those artists that snuck up on me when I least expected it. Her album The Baby slowly but surely shot its way to my favorite albums of 2020, with its refined indie rock sensibilities, Samia’s stellar vocals, and her poetic lyrics, and even today, I find myself revisiting that album quite frequently. So when I heard that she was coming to Brighton Music Hall, I jumped at the opportunity to cover it, despite never having covered a show before. And my god, I don’t think I could have picked a better show to be my first press outing.
After a spellbinding opening set by Savannah Conley, which consisted of just her and her electric guitar, belting her heart out for 30 minutes and doing it flawlessly, it was safe to say that the crowd’s energy was reaching peak excitement as they waited for Samia. Case in point: ‘Brutal’ by Olivia Rodrigo came on the speakers and by the end of the first chorus, half the crowd was screaming along. Luckily, the crowd needn’t wait too long, because approximately 30 minutes after Savannah Conley exited, the lights dimmed, the members of her band walked out, and I was bombarded with a wall of screams from the press pit.
And when Samia finally came out, dressed in a yellow dress paired with chunky white sneakers? Well, the crowd went downright insane. Insane enough that Samia took half a minute to just stand there in pure disbelief; half smiling, half laughing, half crying, as if she couldn’t believe the reaction she was getting, especially for her first tour. It was incredibly touching to see her so humbled by the packed house, but eventually, she steeled herself and began to sing ‘Pool’, the opening song from The Baby, and one of my personal favorite songs. It’s a slow, drawn-out, and earnest song, and watching her sing into a hot mic, hitting all the notes that I would attempt to hit in my Honda CR-V was captivating. The mood was officially set.
And then she proceeded to immediately break it, as the band immediately jumped into ‘Fit n Full’ (the Certified Banger™ from The Baby), and Samia began to dance aggressively amid the crowd screaming the lyrics back at her, shaking her behind and whipping her hair. It was completely unexpected, totally out of left-field, and glorious.
I learned a couple of things about Samia that night:
Samia can sing. Like, actually sing. The songs as presented on the album are already perfect enough, but Samia proved that she can (and will) go above and beyond the studio recordings, not hesitating to reach into her higher register where other artists might falter. Nowhere was this more evident than when she performed ‘Winnebago’, a standout from The Baby that involves her half-singing, half-yelling emotionally about being someone’s poetry. It’s an incredibly cathartic moment, and I am happy to report that it hit just as hard live as it did on the album, and a lot of that has to do with her voice.
Samia can put on a show. From the dancing (which continued on throughout the night) to the banter with the crowd, she had us in the palm of her hand. I actually didn’t know that this was her first headlining tour; based solely on the show she put on, I wouldn’t have guessed that at all. She performed each song with the same gusto that they deserved; whether earlier singles like ‘Ode to Artifice’ or ‘Django’, or cuts from The Baby like ‘Waverly’ or ‘Is There Something In The Movies?’
It was obvious to me that Samia has a lot of love for her touring mates. She invited Savannah Conley back onstage to sing ‘As You Are’ from the recently-released Scout EP. She let her bandmates perform a cover of Bobby Vinton’s ‘Mr. Lonely’, which drew a lot of laughs from the crowd. Even from the way Samia was bouncing around, shimmying her shoulders with her bassist, sitting on top of her drummer’s bass drum, even, in one of the best moments of the night, watching her and Savannah Conley sing and dance together, laughing goofily all the while. It was truly heartwarming.
Samia was incredibly grateful for the love we had shown her. Not only did she tell us at the beginning of her set, but her gratitude showed in everything she did— how she threw her hands up and laughed in excitement as we passionately sang the chorus to ‘Triptych’, her reaction to the crowd screaming her name before she even began singing ‘Pool’. And the crowd was thankful as well: At one point during the show, different people passed gifts to her from the crowd: earrings, a piece of art, tissues (she had started crying again). There was a lot of love circulating through Brighton Music Hall that night, and I’m grateful not only to have been a part of it but that Samia was there to facilitate it all with her music.
Overall, I like to think that I was part of something magical that night: something about the music, about the crowd, about Samia made everything seem heightened, as if anything could happen. I’m glad I got to witness the meteoric rising of an soon-to-be indie rock legend, and I can proudly say that I was there for it.