Astrid S Brings Intimate Performance to (Le) Poisson Rouge

The “Trust Issues” singer knows how to do more with less.

Astrid S‘s star has been on the rise all year, beginning with her American late-night debut on Late Night with Seth Meyers and continuing with her Stripped Down Tour. Aside from releasing three singles off her latest EP this past year, the Norwegian singer also recently performed at New York’s own (Le) Poisson Rouge on September 17th to a sold-out crowd. Forgoing electro-pop for a well, stripped-down, style, Astrid kicked off the show seated on a stool with an acoustic guitar. The move is arguably the bread-and-butter for singer-songwriters, and it allowed Astrid to showcase her haunting vocals unencumbered. Also in a more subdued style, the 22-year-old artist performed in a black sweatshirt and sheer rhinestone-encrusted pants—casual yet captivating.

Astrid S performed a show on her Stripped Down Tour at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. Photograph by Casey Kelbaugh

This spirit could characterize the entirety of the set, in which Astrid’s stage presence crackled like the pressure before a thunderstorm. The intimate nature of the venue also broke down the distance between audience and performer, soaking each viewer in saturated sound. Astrid began with her breakout single from 2016, “Hurts So Good,” and followed with “Good Choices.” The young artist has repeatedly become known for her tender, relatable lyrics, imbuing a sweetness that melts throughout. Her latest release, Trust Issues, laments lost love and miscommunication. In the age of ghosting, Astrid’s lyrics, “Why can’t you say it to my face if you don’t want me anymore,” speaks to a larger emotional block in younger relationships. With dating apps like Tinder and Bumble facilitating the meeting (and ghosting) of potential prospects, it becomes even easier to treat partners as disposable, not affording them the proper respect and communication.

Photograph by Casey Kelbaugh
Astrid S performed a show on her Stripped Down Tour at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. Photograph by Casey Kelbaugh

Although Astrid S (full name: Astrid Smeplass) normally sings against a backdrop of crashing, dance-inducing pop, the Stripped Down tour uplifts the kind of vulnerability Astrid speaks so well to in her songs. Her band, which joined in later, evoked the danceability of her recorded tracks and rounded out the sound without overwhelming. Even in the cabaret-style (Le) Poisson Rouge, Astrid’s infectious melodies still managed to burrow in your ear, prompting a foot-tap or a head-nod. Her more emotional ballads, such as “The First One,” a song that deals with lost youth, also gained new life in the acoustic setting. Astrid’s vocal breadth cut to the core of the song, and only a monster wouldn’t think about shedding a tear.

Ultimately, (Le) Poisson Rouge solidified Astrid S’s position as a singer with the potential to both dominate radio airwaves and hold court in a smaller cabaret setting. As she continues to release new music, I’m excited to see how far she goes.

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