Grace McKagan just kicked off a residency at Harvard and Stone and we absolutely had to see her perform. First and foremost, Fernanda and I genuinely love Grace’s music. I know Fernanda has been familiar with her music for a while and had seen her perform with The Pink Slips, the band she started when she was 15. On my end, I got to know Grace’s music with Surrender, her first solo single that she released during the pandemic and it made a big impression on me. This song has been on repeat on my Spotify and has made its way through several of our playlists (ie: Nowhere Indie, LA LOVES YOU).
I love her 60’s garage-infused alternative sound and I wasn’t disappointed because Grace and her band delivered a powerful and electrifying live performance. I was standing right by Blues Williams' side on the stage and I just went into a trance led by his loud yet clean, reverbed, and tremolo-drenched guitar tones. His Vox amplifier served as a time machine, and from the very beginning of the set, I was transported to a cooler and colorful era filled with polka dot-printed dresses, and long, puffed bubble sleeves. They started the set with the Kinksesque So Hyper. Mike Robinson didn’t hold back on the drums. With Trent Peltz on the bass, they form a solid groove machine that allows Blues to peacefully wander in the realm of minimalistic yet very effective riffs and bright textures. This is the perfect backbone for Grace’s voice and presence to shine. Those three musicians are in symbiosis and it allows her to express herself freely and playfully.
Grace’s performance is like the result of a witchcraft recipe. A little bit of the elegance of Brigitte Bardot mixed some of the biting attitudes of Debbie Harry; add a pinch of Nancy Sinatra and you get that special and addicting brew. Don’t get me wrong, Grace’s performance is not a legacy act. Her music is referenced but she’s managing to create a sound and a style for herself. And that’s what is striking, really. Her new solo venture seems overall liberating for Grace and that reflects in her live performance. She doesn’t seem to need an alter ego anymore. When she was performing with the Pink Slips, she used the moniker Grave and relied a lot on theatrical performances. Bowie had his Ziggy, Grace had her Grave, it was great but it seems now it’s her moment to shine for who she is.
Song after song, whether it’s a promising new song (Now Baby That’s Rock N’ Roll), a Pink Slip song (Texas, I’m Ready), or a 60’s cover, what we see is Grace blossoming into a wonderful and unique performer. I’m Ready never sounded so exhilarating and edgy. Chick Habit, originally a French 60’s song written by local legend Serge Gainsbourg and sang by France Galle, becomes a James Bond theme for the 21st century, and Surrender, my personal favorite, ends the set in a scream that could very well resuscitate the ghost of Kurt Cobain. It’s a very well-balanced set full of gems, a sexy and playful show at the service of perfectly crafted alternative music. Don’t miss the remaining nights of her November residency at Harvard and Stone on Tuesdays. Last but not least, I'm very happy to tell you Grace will be soon the guest of our very own Hanging On Sunset Podcast.
Vincent Walter Jacob
Get you high
R + R
One U love
Photos: Vincent Walter Jacob