Music Review

Sky Ferreira and How to Dress Well earn their buzz

Sky Ferreira was backed by a four-piece band on Sunday.
Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff
Sky Ferreira was backed by a four-piece band on Sunday.

There didn’t seem to be much connecting co-headliners Sky Ferreira and How to Dress Well at Sunday night’s show at the Brighton Music Hall, apart from a degree of bloggy acclaim and heartthrob status. The former toes the line between synth-pop starlet and stylized indie-rocker, while the latter conjures an ambrosial blend of choral compositions and artful laptop R&B.

Performing as a two-piece, How To Dress Well segued between wounded R&B and experimental bass music. The instrumentation of “& It Was U” amounted to a single sustained bass note that escalated to a room-filling racket. On “Talking to You” — a song vocalist Tom Krell described as a duet he’d written with himself — he alternated between two microphones, employing a husky croon and a falsetto, over a mournful violin run from sideman Aaron Read, with string plucks comprising the beat.

On record, some of these songs lack much in the way of dynamics, but the manipulation of huge bass sounds, the introduction of rudimentary but compelling programmed beats, and the live violin, along with Krell’s humble charisma breathed life into the set. For “Decisions,” Krell stepped away from the microphone and delivered a quiet, powerful a cappella vocal that had the entire room (save a few drunk hecklers) riveted.


Songwriter, model, and muse of ’90s nostalgia Sky Ferreira arrived with a few more tunes, and a much larger following, than at her Boston performance a few months ago. New songs like “You’re Not the One” showcased her strident, surprisingly powerful voice and injected a much-needed energy into a set that shifted back and forth between bass-forward synth-pop, and curiously classic-rock-influenced acoustic ballads, like the elegiac, prettily spun web of romance “Ghost.”

Her four-piece band buoyed the more self-assured (if still knowingly indifferent) Ferreira, on other new material that seems to be heading in a higher-energy, indie-punk direction. Expect her crowds to continue to grow exponentially.

Luke O’Neil can be reached at