By Julia Lanksich, Staff Writer
Up-and-coming artist Remi Wolf has come a long way since her American Idol days.
In 2014, the then 17-year-old singer was eliminated in the second round of performances of Season 13. Since then, she has built a career out of her original music, beginning with a host of singles released from the start of 2019.
Most recently, Wolf released her first studio album, Juno, in October 2021 and announced a North American tour to follow. I attended her show in Columbus at Newport Music Hall, which is the longest-running rock club in America.
Wolf had one opening act traveling with her: a synth-pop artist named Grace Ives. While I appreciated the platform that was given to a smaller artist, Ives’ music was not my cup of tea. Her voice was extremely under-balanced in the sound mix to the point where I couldn’t make out a single word she sang. The intentional drowning out of the actual content of the song by a painfully repetitive beat was off-putting.
Despite the confusing opener, Wolf was immediately greeted by chanting in the crowd. The sold-out show attracted a lot of college students from Ohio State University, and the energy in the room was palpable. She seemed to get some of her enthusiasm from the positive reactions she received, which is so fun to watch as an audience member. This didn’t seem like a concert attended by many casual fans – a good portion of the attendees knew every word to every song.
As a listener who doesn’t spend much time looking for live performances on YouTube, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of how much her live act differs from studio recordings. That said, I was absolutely floored by how beautiful Wolf’s voice was. She jumped around the stage and did an overall fantastic job capturing the audience’s attention, all while keeping the clarity and quality of what I’d heard in her album.
This was especially impressive considering how she changed the texture of her music to accommodate the live setting. Her songs are usually saturated with electronic beats, sound effects and convoluted pedal work for the guitar parts. By contrast, she sang at Newport Music Hall with only a bassist, rhythm guitarist, drummer and backup vocals. While what makes her songs unique was still present, she did not hide behind the “easy out” of effects.
Wolf also did a fantastic job staying true to her funky and absurdist aesthetic, despite the stripped-down band performing with her. The result was a stage that had really neat visuals playing in the background, props (including a couch!) that interacted with the lights and an energetic artist hopping around in a giant green dress and knit hat. She gave her fans what they were looking for – an upbeat and colorful show.
Overall, I have only positive things to say about the concert, save the opener. Wolf is a humble and talented artist and performer, and she deserves all of the respect she has gained over the past couple years.