Still hot off the release of her newest album Lights Out, Ingrid Michaelson stunned a sold-out Electric Factory crowd on Friday night. I had just gone to Ingrid’s Free @ Noon concert at World Café Live that afternoon, and upon entering the Electric Factory, I expected more of the same: great songwriting and vocal talent, impassioned lyrics from her entire songwriting career, and one of the tightest backing bands in the business. Within the first hour of the show, before Ingrid herself had even taken the stage, my expectations were shattered, and by the end, I was cheering as loud as the people in the very front.
Opening up the night was self-proclaimed vintage duo Sugar & The Hi-Lows, comprised of songwriters Trent Dabbs and Amy Stroup. In an effort to bring back the feel-good sounds of the early 20th century, Dabbs and Stroup serenaded the audience with bluesy, stomp box driven harmonies, and relied on audience participation throughout the entire set. Every song echoed the sounds of the 50’s and 60’s, from the overdriven guitar to Dabbs’ own hair and outfit.
Coming up to the stage second was powerhouse Irish duo Storyman, made up of Kevin May and Mick Lynch. Echoing the songwriting style of Kodaline, Passenger and bands of the same vein, the duo transfixed the audience with vast guitar, synth and stomp box instrumentations, even calling upon the crowd to turn their cell phones and iPod’s into “digital fireflies” during a song, in an effort to recreate Kevin May’s first experience of seeing fireflies upon coming to America. By the end of the set, the audience was begging for more, but the quality of the music that night would only improve from there.
Just before 10 o’clock Ingrid finally took the stage, but it was by no means the same Ingrid that played the Free @ Noon earlier that day; this Ingrid was revitalized, charismatic, and energetic through the final chorus. This Ingrid had undeniable electricity that carried her through belters like “Time Machine” and “You Got Me” (written by and featuring Storyman), and crooners like smash-hit “The Way I Am,” “Breakable,” and “Ready To Lose” (with Trent Dabbs).
Michaelson built her relationship with the crowd from the ground up, relying on them consistently for clapping and (startlingly) excellent backing harmonies. She showcased her relationship with every member of her ever-impressive band, introducing them by making them do character walks as they were introduced, with characters including Ellen Degeneres, Marilyn Manson, Marilyn Monroe, The Incredible Hulk, and Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker battling to the death (done by one person!). Other highlights from Ingrid’s set included hit single “Girls Chase Boys,” “Chain” (featuring Amy Stroup), and “You And I” (redone as a polka, complete with accordion!).
By the encore, the crowd grew to absurd volumes, and Ingrid and her band astounded the audience with anthemic renditions of “Maybe/Everybody,” and “Afterlife,” a feel-good song for the ages focused on finally becoming involved in the present moment, and every member of the crowd, myself included, was fully immersed and singing along. Post-show, Ingrid tweeted “Philly let’s get married.” to 184,000 followers. If the ever increasing volume of the crowd was any indication, the response is a resounding “Yes.”