REVIEW: Noah Cyrus does it her way at August Hall

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Noah Cyrus

Noah Cyrus performs at August Hall in San Francisco on Oct. 20, 2018. Photos: Gary Chancer.

SAN FRANCISCO — Noah Cyrus, fresh off the release of her debut EP and a summer in which a brief romance and subsequent breakup made tabloid headlines and social media memes, played her first headlining show in the Bay Area Saturday. Cyrus performed songs in a variety of styles, most of which showed a taste different from her sister, Miley.

Backed by a drummer and a keyboardist-guitarist, Noah Cyrus opened with the title track to her new EP, Good Cry; a sort of throwback ballad that harkened as much to ’60s Brill Building pop as it did to modern sleekly produced pop. The softness of the tune made the transition to the disco-tinged pop-funk song “My Way” a bit jarring. Cyrus hopped around on one foot, raising the room’s energy.

Noah Cyrus

Noah Cyrus photographed before a show at August Hall in San Francisco on Oct. 20, 2018.

She and her band then covered The 1975’s “Somebody Else,” removing the gauzy nostalgia of the original, turning it into a bit of an R&B song. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night came next, with “Live or Die,” the single she released earlier this year with Soundcloud rapper Lil Xan. Given their recent tumultuous—and very public—breakup, her referencing of the relationship wasn’t expected. She sang her parts in the duet, as well as Lil Xan’s. The fans in the room seemed to know this song best, and sang along to the chorus.

Following “Punches” and “Where Have You Been?” Noah Cyrus and her keyboardist performed four songs in a stripped-down manner. The mini-set included “Stay Together,” “Almost Famous” and a faithful cover of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,” which seemed to take on a new meaning when sung with a feminine voice. That led to “Topanga (Voice Memo),” the most personal song from her EP, with a direct narrative.

With her drummer back on stage, she got back to playing some bangers, sandwiching “Again,” between two covers of XXXTENACION covers (“Sad” and “Look At Me!”). “All Falls Down” was one of the most upbeat, catchy modern pop songs of the night. Noah Cyrus followed that up with the powerful, heartfelt ballad “Mad At You” and the extremely catchy “Sadness.” The song featured a mournful synth that was played underneath an upbeat beat.

“I’m just trying to be friends with my sadness,” she sang, dancing around the stage and reaching as far as she could into the first rows of fans to hold hands. Cyrus concluded with the rollicking “I’m Stuck,” a kind of barn-burning Pentecostal tune about getting over a relationship, and “Make Me (Cry).”

Maty Noyes

Maty Noyes performs at August Hall in San Francisco on Oct. 20, 2018.

Pop singer-songwriter Maty Noyes opened the show with some mostly upbeat pop tunes. She sang atop a backing track that blended the rhythm and melody, which made it sound like karaoke. She would have been helped if the backing track had been split up into stereo channels. Noyes dedicated “Spiraling Down” to the LGBTQA community. The song’s tropical tinge was broken up by the rapped verses. She dedicated the mid-tempo “Porn Star” to the headliner, saying it was Noah Cyrus’ favorite of her songs, and closed with the upbeat “Stay.”

Follow Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter

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