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Del Water Gap Stuns at Brooklyn Steel: An All-Immersive Show
By Sophie Montague
Del Water Gap’s hometown show in Brooklyn on October 21st was a riveting night with an energy that filled the entire room, from the barricade to the balcony. The solo project of singer S. Holden Jaffe has been releasing music since 2015, and gradually building a following since. Now on tour for his latest LP, I Miss You Already + I Haven’t Left Yet, Holden showcased his zero-skip discography in all its glory. The setlist checked every box, from old fan favorites, to well-known hits, to enticing new releases people were eager to hear.
It would be wrong to say Del Water Gap is not pop music. But his anthemic tracks filled with shimmering guitar riffs and emotional hooks place him in a liminal space that bridges a wide array of audiences. The new album in particular masks many darker themes with a flashy grandeur. On the front end of the show, brighter, upbeat notes immediately gave the crowd moments to engage and sing along. Through songs like “NFU” and “Doll House”, Jaffe captivated audiences as he practically ran laps onstage.
Many were happy to hear the calm and introspective track “Chastain” still being performed – including me. It was not a lull, but rather a moment to step back and a much-needed change of pace for performers. One of the final singles off the new LP, “Quilt of Steam” had a similar introspective mood. But Jaffe’s artistic growth from the last few years of songwriting was clear.
“Beach House”, a track about the chaos and surrealism of an intense drug trip, was a standout song to witness live. I’ve seen many performers utilize the stage layout of Brooklyn Steel to create dynamic productions, but never someone able to make it feel as if the room is spinning. As Jaffe sang, the lights turned dark blue and began strobe flashing. He stumbled and paced, vocally conveying both exhilaration and desperation to escape. It didn’t matter if he didn’t nail every note – that’s not the point of a Del Water Gap show. Somehow here I was, jumping and swaying with people– completely sober, yet still transported to the atmosphere this song encapsulated.
Holden set the scene for “All We Ever Do Is Talk” with a hotel bed, luggage, and a bell cart. Through this scenic embodiment, he did justice to the recreation of his mindstate throughout the new album’s creation process. There was movement implied in set pieces that didn’t move. There was a sense of loneliness as he sang far away and to the ceiling during the album’s closing ballad “We Will Never Be Like Anybody Else”. Yet his connection to the audience never wavered as he reached out to hold hands, and joined us in yelling lyrics that came straight from his heart.
A stranger might see this man in a designer suit, confidently working the limelight, and think he was a high-status star on a pedestal. I’ve met Holden twice now. While in line for this show, he came outside to chat. He told us about his dreams of moving to Massachusetts, to become a writer and his simple love of cows. In the most affectionate way possible, he is just some dude – a dude who gives his all on stage.
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