Show Review: Loma and Jess Williamson at Great Scott

Sunday night shows are an unpredictable beast, but far away from their homes in Texas, Loma and Jess Williamson brought their joyous best, and the crowd reciprocated.  A two band bill of wildly different but similarly tempered groups was the perfect way to close out the weekend.

Jess Williamson has been primarily known for her work in the country-Americana-rock-singer-songwriter vein, but she showed her ability to reach beyond that realm Sunday night, playing exclusively material off her upcoming record, Cosmic Wink. Though the country flair was still present, the music incorporated synths and dance grooves that brought it into its own space. Jess was a captivating voice and presence to front the band, and her songs were full of life and character.

Jess Williamson

The players were absolutely locked, and their chemistry was as strong as ever after four weeks on the road. All members appeared genuinely happy to be playing together and were relaxed and joking around with each other and the audience on stage. Though nearly all the music they played was unreleased, the songs resonated emotionally in a way that is usually reserved for songs intimately known.

Loma, though also from Texas, displayed none of the same Americana warmth of Jess Williamson. The music was spacey and icy, with sparse lighting and a stage setup of all instrumentalists sitting down while playing. Singer Emily Cross was the only one standing, and she sang and performed with mirth and confidence that brought the slower moving and more experimental music to life. At times she was playing steel drum and at other times she was painting a picture at the side of the stage during the noisier post-rock instrumental sections.

Their performance was meditative and captivating at the same time, effortlessly shifting between groovier indie rock songs and bizarre slow evolving arrangements. Subtle shifts in their lighting punctuated the changes and electrified the performance. Despite the intensity and gravity of their music, they never approached self-seriousness and delivered the often times dark music with a sense of lightness and fun which made it all the more relatable and human.

This show was a perfect example of how two artists from different musical spheres can compliment and elevate each other on a bill.