Standing in line to see Alexz Johnson perform was an event 10 years in the making. Former star of the Disney’s So Weird, and Instant Star (which was on the Degrassi-Channel), Alexz Johnson has been singing on and off television for a long time, when she’s not casually getting murdered, of course.
Now, if you didn’t watch any of these shows, and you have absolutely no clue who I’m talking about, that’s okay. None of her past work matters when you listen to this girl sing.
Songs from Instant Star was the first album I ever downloaded for my ironically not-so-mini iPod mini in 2006. Since first listen, I knew that this girl was special. She had a voice that sounded like something I’d never heard before, and it was my dream to see her live since her show premiered in 2004.
Since then, four different Instant Star soundtracks were released, as well as the 2009 album Voodoo and a remixed version by the Demolition Crew titled Reloaded. In 2011 came a collection of demos titled The Basement Recordings, then the 2012 EP Skipping Stone, which was accompanied by a very successful kickstarter campaign to launch a tour for the EP (which gained $50,000 by day 3). This was followed by The Basement Recordings part II and III which released, respectively, in 2012 and 2013.
Now in 2014, she’s released another EP called Heart and has been hinting at her second studio album, to be released in the near future.
To gather support for that EP, she launched a lil tour supporting some Youtube guy (I think?) named Max Schneider. Now, no offense to Max Schneider, whoever he is, but I did not wait 10 years and fly almost 5,000 miles from Honolulu, to see his irrelevant ass.
I skipped quickly from a lovely day at BUST magazine and got to the concert venue 15 minutes early. I was greeted with a line out the door of about 50 thirteen-year-olds, wearing huge snapbacks, while texting on their phones, accompanied by their other teenage friends and their depressed fathers. I made it.
The line was hot, and the kids were complaining. I overheard the thirteen-year-old behind me wearing Wayfarers without lenses say, “If you think this is bad, you should see a One Direction concert.” But the line eventually moved and I got my over-21 wristband to which I wanted to stick my tongue out at all the minors and say “HA HA,” but I had a mission and it wasn’t to make 13-year-olds cry. I was here to see my lifetime friend, Alexz.
Once actually inside, I quickly got a Redbull vodka and forced myself into the crowd. While there were infinite squealing teenagers taking selfies, talking more about that Max guy than Alexz, I did not care.
She came on stage in this darling Jenny Lewis-esque navy blue long sleeve romper. With a sassy onstage report and amazing freshly cut bangs, she slung on her giant white classic guitar and literally rocked my world. I hate when people say that expression, but it’s true.
I’ve complained before that it makes me sad to think that the Alanis Morissettes of today don’t get nearly as much radio air-time as Miss Supposed-Former-Infatuation-Junkie had in her prime. Why is that? Because, frankly, I think people don’t want to hear young women express their feelings anymore by “people,” I mean record label executive, hoity toity white old men and the rest of our patriarchy society.
However, Alexz Johnson, also from Canada may I add, is very talented sans auto-tuned, sans editing, sans everything except a microphone and a guitar. She sings from this deep beautiful place, explaining that her song “Thank You For Breaking My Heart,” off her Heart EP, was based off a letter that she wrote that she never thought anyone would see.
Throughout her entire set nothing mattered. I may sound corny, but this was seriously such a spiritual experience for me. Hearing her angelic, but soulful voice in such an intimate environment (just her, me, and like 100 kids-half of whom were texting and not paying attention…gross) brought me instantly to tears.
Seeing Alexz Johnson perform live was the opposite of the usual good-on-CD-shitty-in-real-life performances that I’m used to *cough* Modest Mouse *cough*. She was more talented than I could’ve ever imagined and to this day, I will still list her as one of the most underrated female musicians of our time
Ooooh, she just feels those feels, like I feel the feels. But, she’s able to actually articulate them and create absolutely beautifully, uniquely, crafted (this bitch is artisanal) melodies that could’ve only come from dreams.
She only played songs from her Heart EP, which is no longer available on iTunes or Spotify due to a management/label issue (I put on my reporter hat and asked her merch girl). But, she also featured a song called “Mary” that she wrote for the show Blue starring our favorite fictional feminist but IRL actress Julia Stiles (10 Things I Hate About You anyone?).
(CLICK HERE to read an article about Blue on bust.com)
Once her set was done, I quickly scurried out to the merch table to buy a T-shirt and a copy of the Heart EP, because that is impossible to find online, and waited in line to have her sign it.
I was let down that she didn’t instantly recognize me and say “CAELAN! WE’VE BEEN FRIENDS FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS, IT’S ABOUT TIME WE MEET.” Because I honestly, creepily feel like I do know her (I’m sorry but I feel the same way about Drake too, okay?) It’s okay though, we made eye-contact and told her how far I traveled and how much she means to me. And now that she knows that, I can die happy.
Photo credit: Mika Kamansky / Me!