EMA @ Scala 15th May 2012

Coming all the way from South Dakota was Erika M Anderson (AKA EMA). Last year she released one phenomenal album and this being Past Life Martyred Saints. This album only featured just 9 superb tracks. Many may see it as Erika’s début release but in fact she release Little Sketches on Tape in 2010 on the label Night People. Little Sketches was a released on cassette tape. Anderson was originally a member of Gowns but left to go solo in 2010.

Well that is enough about the back story. I arrived at Scala around 5pm. The weather wasn’t all that great. When I was outside the venue I was caught up in a hailstorm which then led to torrential rain. Fast forward to around 7.30pm the doors opened and I made my way into the venue to find that they opted not to have a pit for photographers. In a way this was good but when you have rowdy fans who desperately want to get to the front then it is not a good idea. Before EMA there were two support acts the first being Indians who was just fronted by one guy and then you had Still Corners.

Anderson then took to the stage for which was probably the last tour of Past Life Martyred Saints. At this time the place was literally packed. Things kicked off with a brand new song which I had never heard before and this being Stand. At first this number started off soft and gentle. Erika’s vocals were soothing at the same time. Then the rest of the band kicked in and Stand became more powerful. “Thank you so much for coming. F**k yeah thank you. We have a good time” Erika then said to the packed out crowd. It was then onto another new song and this being Angelo which appeared as the B side to the Marked single. This song was about Oakland and the different ways people try to make a name for themselves there. Bundles of energy was full flowing from this amazing track. Straight after Angelo had finished someone shouted out “ERIKA”. Anderson replied by saying “That’s what my mama calls me”.  It was then onto the epic The Grey Ship. There was feedback which resulted in Erika trying to sing it 3 times. This was the début single, described as “a nod to the Viking funeral ships of her ancestors”. This song began very mellow and soft, then gradually built up to something more intense during the second part of the song. This number showcased Erika’s stunning vocals perfectly.

It was then straight into Marked. Anderson’s vocals were unbearably hoarse and strained, you could feel her fragility and desperation, as she sang, “I wish that every time he touched me left a mark”. Erika put every ounce of energy into this song. “Thank you guys so much” Anderson said before the next song. Milkman was the next to be played and ton the night which was delivered powerfully from start to finish. “Could I get it dark and smoky and scary” Erika then shouted out. The next number is probably the darkest EMA song. At the beginning you could hear the noise of knifes sharpening. Butterfly Knife was this song and this dealt with self mutilation. “You Were The Goth In High School, You Cut And Fucked Your Arms Up”. After a tune up it was then onto Anteroom. Now an Anteroom is an outer room which opens into another room. At first this song started off rather beautiful then as it progressed it began to ooze plenty of energy. “Just a second I need to tune this. I wish anyone could joke the English people are funnier than me. Thank you guys so much for this whole year I’ve had. Playing here has been f**king awesome for you guys. I’m just really happy that this city has embraced me and come out and supported me. Its been super fantastic. I’m not going to be back for a while, probably, so thank you for giving me a send off in a wonderful way” Erika said before launching into Gowns track Cherylee. This number was beautifully delivered despite what the song is depicting. Cherylee tells the story of a women who has been selling her body for sex (“She Is Crying At The Kitchen Table, I Can’t Stand To Think About, The Way I Let Those Men Touch Me”) and now is trying to come out of it as the man she loved prior felt the same way (“I Should Have Been Waiting The Whole Time, If I Had Known You Were Coming Into My Life, I Would Have Been Waiting For You The Whole Time”). Red Star started off soft then as it progressed it got a lot more stronger. “Thank you guys so much. We just have one more. You know what it is” Anderson said before ending with California. This song being the most memorable EMA song as the lyrics were rather powerful (“Fuck California, You Made Me Boring”). This number was extremely ferocious and Erika put everything she had to deliver this sublime song to perfection. The band exited the stage only to return moments later for what was to be the encore. “We’re going to do just one more for you guys” Erika said before ending the extraordinary night ended with a Gowns song White Like Heaven. Now Anderson was the lead single of Folk band Gowns until they disbanded January 2010. Still this song was spell binding and it was a real treat to hear this lovely song live.


Grey Ship
Butterfly Knife
Red Star


White Like Heaven

OVERALL: Every single track from Past Life Martyred Saints sounds completely different. Where as you have the heavy songs some have gentle/ soft parts. I would place EMA in the grunge/ rock genre. What was performed this evening was superb and all the tracks were delivered to perfection. Just hearing two Gowns numbers was quite something. If I had to pick a favourite from Cherylee and White Like Heaven I would have to go with Cherylee. It was ashame that this gig was running overtime (it finished at 11.10pm) which resulted in Breakfast being cut from the encore. But what I had witnessed was something truly epic and makes me want Erika to return to the UK sooner than later.


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