It’s been some time since I’ve been to The Basement East. Fortunately this is one of the few venues I get excited to work in. Upon arriving at the venue, there was already a line outside the door. I grabbed my credentials and walked into the room to see a very enthusiastic crowd singing along to some of the songs playing through the speakers. I honestly didn’t know what to expect walking in. Sometimes I like to surprise myself and only listen to one song from the artist I am covering. I prefer to see the artist live first before listening to their recordings because of how raw live performances are.
Abby Cates opened for Leanna this night. Abby is an Ohio-native indie-pop singer/songwriter based in Nashville, TN. On stage, it was just Abby, her guitar, her sweet voice and heartwarming lyrics.
With a small recorded intro and the roaring from the crowd, Leanna made her way to the stage. She performed a full set that night and shared her story behind her lyrics. She spoke about her father’s drug addiction and how it affected her life before singing her song “ESOEMOEHOED”. This tune resonated with me personally. My eyes welled up as I looked around the room to check if I wasn’t the only one. I don’t share the exact experience as Leanna has with her father but the sentiment she describes towards her father in her lyrics is where we aligned.
Her partner was invited on stage to perform a beautiful duet he wrote for them called “Luckier Than You.”
She spoke about the mental health problems she faced as a youth throughout the night. She mentioned writing a song when she was upset with her mother and when she released this song, it caused more friction with her mother. However, she told everyone that the song wasn’t just about the fight but much more than that. The room fell silent when she began to describe her experience with suicidal thoughts but with no intention of following through with it. It was more of the need for someone to pay attention and care. The song is called “Least Favorite Only Child” which was the name of her tour. It was at this point that everyone in the crowd held up their phones, flashlights on, as she sang her song.
Leanna had another surprise for her fans. She brought out a small sign with three surprise songs hidden and had someone in the audience choose a song she would perform next. The fan chose “Our Song” by Taylor Swift. She did a little skit with her band, introducing them and asking each if they knew how to play the song in which they said no. But then Leanna brought out a light blue cowboy hat which happened to refresh their memories. Leanna’s final surprise was bracelets she made, which she threw out to the audience.
She ended the night with the first song she wrote called “Strawberry Mentos”.
Leaving the venue, I felt like I just came out of an emotional yet inspirational group therapy session. I felt like a teenager again, going through the motions. Her stories and lyrics resonated with me and it honestly didn’t feel like I was the only one who went through it. Even though she hit some very deep and vulnerable topics, there was a sense of empowerment she exuded to the room. I left that night feeling empowered and I absolutely certain most of her fans did too.