The stage is shrouded in darkness, only a couple of dim purple lamps illuminate a piano. Suddenly ghostly music rises, ponderous electronic tones and faint singing that grows stronger with each layer of vocals that is added. Soap&Skin appears on stage: a tall, skinny figure in a long white dress. Her childlike face is framed by cropped brown hair; a bandage on her arm makes her appear even more delicate. She looks like she could break at any moment. She wanders across the stage until she finally finds her way to a microphone. She starts singing with a surprisingly forceful voice that rebuts her apparent fragility, sending shivers down my spine.
Soap&Skin performed the first couple of songs on the piano, accompanied by her sister. Most of the time she focused solely on the music, in between the songs she barely dared to look at the audience. Gradually she relaxed. Suddenly, she stopped playing in the middle of a song and raised a shaking hand to her face, as if her feelings had overpowered her. Her audience, mesmerized from the beginning, complied with sympathetic applause – to me the whole thing felt odd and unauthentic.
After a couple of songs she abandoned the piano and sang in the front of the stage. Here she continued her unsettling performance: she started to dance while singing. Her movements looked rather choreographed but were also very hectic, much too fast to fit to the music.
Her whole performance was like a disturbing act, it felt like she had performed this several times before. This would have been strange enough, but sadly it also deprived the music of a lot of its power. While watching her hammering the keys of her piano like she was about to trash it and listening to her incredibly full, deep voice, singing of pain and longing, I couldn’t look at her without wondering how much of it all was real.
After her encore of The Doors’ ‘The End’ I left the Uebel & Gefährlich mesmerized but confused, wondering if I could ever listen to her music again after this bizarre experience.
While writing this Sina was listening to Chelsea Wolfe – We hit a wall.