EMA (Erika M. Anderson) is undeniably one of the most exciting artists to come out of the US in the last two years, combining existing elements of grunge, noir-ish noise-pop and Americana to create something new, and perfectly pitched between the entertainingly accessible and the challengingly avant-garde.
With shocking new undercut black locks, former Gowns front-woman, Erika took to the stage, an impressively tall figure, backed by her unassuming looking band of keyboard/synth, drummer, and bassist/second guitarist, EMA being primary guitarist for most of the gig, although it's the third song of the set when she picks up her Fender Jaguar and Ebow, to play her Viking epic "Grey Ship", the song that most people will be familiar with after she forced her way into the music press with it back in early 2011. Erica's wonderful soaring vocals, are as wonderful up close as they are on record, but it's the sonic chopping guitar of the tightly synched four piece that strike you almost viscerally, putting most Metal and Punk bands to shame, EMA in the centre like some brilliantly unhinged conductor. "Marked" sees a swap of instruments with the addition of bass guitar and viola, full of more sky soaring and sky sawing guitar noise, reminiscent of "Siamese Dream" era Corgan. The grunge era is referenced, reworked and updated once more with the next song too, the stripped back Cobain/Love like "Anteroom", though Erica's vocal ability exceeds the fore mentioned musicians, both in tonal, and emotive, range. The sexy pneumatic pounding of "Milkman" is next, Erica asking for the lights to be dimmed in order to make the most of her head-torch and mini-discoball, which she proudly holds, telling the audience she bought it from Maplins earlier that day. The lights stay off as Erika jumps into the audience for a good chunk of the following song, "Butterfly Knife", rocking out to the delight of the largely prog-rock-orientated looking crowd. By the ninth song of the set, the longing, "Redstar" Erika is back on stage, using her long limbs to gesticulate her, perhaps, partly unintentional, but compellingly alluring showmanship, far more sophisticated than the smudged lipstick and torn tights of the riot girl scene that many will try and compare it to. The set finishes with "California", a song, that live, still sounds like "Where The Streets Have No Name" being machine-gunned to pieces in beautiful, cinematic slow motion. An encore sees an unnamed noise-pop epic take the gig well past curfew, the audience blissfully immersed in EMA's touchingly honest, dark, but breathtakingly beautiful landscape. For more information, to get hold of the amazing "Past Life Martyred Saints" or get a free download of a non album track, go to emaemaema.net