There have a been a lot of great shows in NYC this summer, both within the local scene and featuring bigger acts at the various outdoor concert series like BRIC or SummerStage. I’ve had a blast seeing live music of all different genres by going to shows almost every night (a lot of it for work but also plenty as a fan) and have had no shortage of great music to bask in. But the chance to see the powerhouse performer, Sasami Ashworth, playing again on a much bigger stage than the last time I saw her at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia (see pics) was the crown prize of my summer show going; all plans were immediately canceled the moment I found out about this show.
Canadian singer songwriter Charlotte Cornfield opened the evening with a set of pleasant indie folk songs that were a nice warmup for the rest of the evening. The Beths were also on the bill and technically were the headliner, but I was there as a Sasami fan above anything else so she is who took my main focus. But don’t get me wrong, I was happy to see The Beths play finally (because I worked their last NYC show selling merch so didn’t get to see much. See FTA’s coverage from that show) and their set was fun and enjoyable, their brand of indie pop rock soothing in the humid summer air. The New Zealand foursome was affable and relatable on stage, and are gearing up for the release of their new album Expert In A Dying Field which is due out on September 16th (via Carpark Records).
The Beths at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!
The last time I saw Sasami play, she left me rocked to the core. It was without a doubt a very cool experience to see her in a small room because I really don’t think it will be long before she will no longer be able to play rooms of that size due to demand for her live sets. I also remember thinking to myself then as I left to head home that while I always love seeing shows in small spaces, it would be amazing to see her on a much bigger stage because the small room just didn’t seem to be able to allow her to spread out and really let everything go. Not that it was a bad show by any means, but it felt a little contained and she is an artist that very much will fill the entire room with her dynamic presence; it really felt like there was much more space to be filled.
Sasami at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!
Just a few short months later I got my wish to see her on a large stage and wow was it everything I had hoped for and more! Ashworth dialed her explosive performance from last time up to eleven and easily took command of the large space at the Lena Horne Bandshell, holding the audience in the palm of her hand as we all swooned to her epic rock star moves. From front to back and all over the grounds of Prospect Park, the crowd was enraptured with her full on stage presence.
Along with her band, which is comprised of the members of metal band Barishi—Graham Brooks on guitar, Jon Kelley on bass, and Dylan Blake on drums—the foursome put on an incredible show. Leading the band, she shredded on guitar for many songs before putting it down to rock out on the mic and dance for “Say It,” a highlight of the show for me. Overall the set was shorter than I had hoped for, but such is the case with the outdoor shows with early sound curfews and other bands on the bill. She hit nine of the songs from her latest album Squeeze, including her metal-fied cover of Daniel Johnston’s 1983 song “Sorry Entertainer,” before ending her set with the beautiful pairing of “Feminine Water Turmoil,” and “Not A Love Song” which also close out the album together.
She then graciously headed to the merch table to greet fans and sign records, giving me a fist bump when I told her I had canceled my plans that night to be able to come see her play which was the perfect cap on an already awesome evening. I’m very much looking forward to what Sasami does next both in the studio and on stage because whatever it is, it is sure to be some of the most creative and interesting music that will stand far above what her indie peers are currently doing.
Sasami on KEXP in May, 2022
Sasami at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Setlist: The Greatest, Need It to Work, Skin a Rat, Make It Right, Sorry Entertainer (Daniel Johnston cover), Say It, Call Me Home, Feminine Water Turmoil, Not a Love Song,
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)