Last April, Maine-based musician Aly Spaltro stood on Turner Hall‘s stage for the first time, as her project—then called Lady Lamb The Beekeeper—played in support of Typhoon. Just over 15 months later, the maybe five-foot powder keg returned to “one of her three favorite places to play” (the other two are in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Iowa City, Iowa) as Lady Lamb with more fanfare, a shorter name, and an excellent new album, After. While the intermittent summer showers made for a sparse weeknight turnout, the 150-200 who took advantage of the 10 Buck Show got their money’s worth, and then some, as the pint-sized 25-year-old powerhouse plowed through her latest record and treated longtime fans to choice cuts from her extensive body of work.
Before Spaltro and company took the stage for Lady Lamb’s Turner Hall headlining debut, Milwaukee’s own Soul Low made their inaugural of what’s sure to be many appearances at the historic hometown venue. As show-goers slowly filed in, the beloved locals traversed a great deal of their catalog, ranging from UNEASY favorites like “Sitting By The Fire” and “Spooky Times” to boisterous B-sides like “Always Watching Out” and “OMG STD” from its latest, Sweet Pea. Though there’s no shortage of opportunities to see Soul Low this summer, they made this one count on a bigger stage with a tight and energetic set.
Soon after Soul Low departed, Lady Lamb brazenly announced their presence with seven-minute Ripely Pine rocker “You Are The Apple.” Though the indie darling would revisit the penultimate 2013 release a couple more times before the band’s 75 minutes were through, the majority of the set would remain nestled in the critically-lauded new record, After, including early-set renditions of “Billions Of Eyes”, “Dear Arkansas Daughter” and “Milk Duds.” As Spaltro struck every impressive note with true-to-album precision, members of the abbreviated audience (many of whom converged in a small, tight grouping at the foot of the stage) sang along and clapped to the beat. The bandleader—new to this whole “ballroom headliner” level of popularity—came off as nothing short of humble and honored for the reception. As she introduced her solo version of 2010 song “Between Two Trees,” which she added to her setlist at the request of a fan, a noticeable cheer could be heard. “Really? You know it?” Spaltro said in a tone of what seemed to be genuine surprise. “The pressure is on. I haven’t practiced it.”
Over the course of the night, Lady Lamb alternated from ballroom befitting full-band jams and captivating one-woman songs finger-picked on the same electric Fender used to melt faces just moments earlier. By the time lively numbers “Spat Out Spit” and “Batter” had been played, and a beautiful, stripped-down version of Ripely Pine‘s “Crane Your Neck” hushed the crowd, Turner Hall was eating out of Lady Lamb’s hands. Before departing, Spaltro made sure to express gratitude for show-goers “making the room seem smaller” and thank the sound engineers and front-of-house staff by name. Thursday night’s show was the last Lady Lamb show before the band joins The Decemberists on a U.S./Canadian tour, then heads to Europe, and continues climbing ever closer to mainstream music consciousness. While it might be a while before the up-and-coming act returns to Milwaukee, you can bet Lady Lamb will be back—at least if its singer is to be believed.
“My heart is full,” Spaltro said as her band mates left the stage. “I’ll be back again. I’ll always come back.”