Marika Hackman – The Green Door Store – 20th November 2014

Marika was at the end of her 9 week tour round the UK when I saw her perform her set at the Green Door Store.

Through the heavily draped entrance of the main room I could hear O. Chapman’s (the support) melancholic vocals and sympathetic guitar innocently permeating through the crowd. O. Chapman publicises “I’m now going to play you my masterpiece ” which is called ‘Relapser’, an amalgamation of archetypal folk inspired guitar, seamlessly flowing into sections where his guitar pedal was pushing the guitar sound into reverse. I hope to catch his next performance as soon as possible.
As O. Chapman left the stage the crowd began to gather and I was soon squeezed to the front of the room with other adoring Marika fans. There were the obligatory hipsters but I was surprised to also see a smattering of middle aged faces amongst the horde.

As the lights dimmed, Marika’s launched into her set with a whirring of layered vocals and synths although the introduction seemed incongruous to the type of venue and would have had more impact on a larger stage, perhaps with the use of a light show or projected images. It just felt a little too pantomime and I could see Marika nervously waiting in the wings, trying to hide herself from the crowd in the makeshift backstage.

Nevertheless Marika is a faultless performer. It’s hard to believe she is so young when demonstrating her off key vocal lines and distinct use of mature imagery. There is a child like fragility in her voice and in the way she portrays her imagery through the vocabulary she uses. Marika executes her striking neutral pose alongside tracks such as “Deep green” as though she is becoming accustomed to grown up life, moving away from a childhood of toys and innocence. Her lyric choices are raw with imagery that impresses on the skin, the body, and conflicting concepts such as “itchy teeth”, “just because I love your skin” and “as her skin is freckled with mould.” Her tracks hark of pain and she curates an air of “rawness” in her instrumentals which compliments the softness of her vocals.

‘Animal Fear’ was a more commercial choice for Marika mid set deferring from her traditional melancholic mysticism which leads me to comment on her compositional ambiance. Her mixture of modern trendy folk and sixties acoustic psychedelic permeate through chord and rhythms use and there is a raw grunge like approach to her sound. It’s a sound that she has crafted well alongside her support band which fills the room nicely and really captures the attention of the audience well. ‘Itchy teeth’, was my favourite track of the evening, the subtle use of cymbals alongside the emotive string samples, providing a beautiful backdrop to her vocals.

Her song Cinnamon gathered a cheer upon its introduction and added some spice to the set through its lifted tempo and energetic drive and whilst many of her songs explored the darker and sadder emotions she has to convey, Cinnamon gave more dimension to her repertoire.

I would like to see Marika again, perhaps next time alongside other artists on a festival line-up. An hour and half of melancholy was enough for this traditional ‘folkster’ although Marika’s performance was full of impact and her fans adored her for it.

Alexandra Lea