November 13, 2022
Snail Mail Shines at the Music Box: Concert Review
Hana Tobias

Photos by Hana Tobias

On November 1, Snail Mail played The Music Box in San Diego. Snail Mail is the solo project of 23-year-old Lindsey Jordan, who is currently touring her 2021 album Valentine. It was a lovely evening, marking Jordan’s third time playing at the venue. Despite some hiccups during the night, Snail Mail put on an excellent show.

Dummy opened the concert, performing music from their debut album Mandatory Enjoyment. The Los Angeles-based band is composed of Emma Maatman, Alex Ewell, Joe Trainor, Mark Greshowak, and Nathan O’Dell. Their set ranged from an alt-rock sound to psychedelic drone-pop.

Following Dummy, Snail Mail took the stage for an hour-long set. The show was a bit rough around the edges, something maybe to be expected for a band that’s been touring nonstop since August. Jordan almost played the wrong song at one point, since they’ve been opening for Turnstile with a different setlist. She also seemed to be plagued by issues with her in-ears, asking for adjustments multiple times during the night. Despite the hiccups in the show, she came off as charismatic and able to laugh at herself. That’s the charm of live music: even when things go wrong, you’re experiencing something completely unique.

Musically, Snail Mail shined with a performance full of visceral emotion and heartbreak, paradoxically appropriate for a tour called “Valentine.” Indie rock songs like “Glory” and “Madonna”  saw Jordan confessing anguished yearning with an intense energy. Later, most of the band left the stage, leaving just Jordan and her guitarist to play “Mia.” This stripped-back setup served the song well, showcasing the quiet melancholy of a song that found Jordan admitting, “I can’t keep holding onto you anymore” (although it wasn’t all gloom with Jordan jokingly saying, “That was my own fault,” after entering a beat too late).

Another highlight came later on in the night: the title track on Snail Mail’s most recent album. “Valentine” started out slowly, ramping up into a full-on lovesick cry as Jordan exclaimed, “Why’d you wanna erase me?” The song showcased one of Jordan’s greatest assets: her vocals. She’s not a perfect singer by any means, but recordings don’t do justice to the emotional edge that was present in her voice during live performance. During “Valentine” especially, she sang with an overwhelmingly powerful reckless abandon.

Finally, Snail Mail wrapped up the night with “Pristine,” a crowd-favorite from the 2018 album Lush. The humorously yearning-filled song was an excellent coda for the night, serving as a reminder of not only how skilled Jordan has always been but also how much she has grown. Regardless of technical difficulties, one thing remains true: Snail Mail is, and always will be, an undeniable triumph.

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