I didn’t know what to expect of Allroh, who flew into Chicago from Berlin just to play the afternoon Shellac show in a very rare North American performance on Saturday. She gleamed in white and carried a piercing look in her eyes as heavy as a suitcase. As she played those first chords on her electric guitar, I felt a chill in the air shimmy up my spine and it wasn’t from the temperature in the room or anything that remotely tangible. Allroh is a visionary, a fully realized woman who delivered one of the most awe inspiring performances I’ve seen all year. Between the delicateness of a José González and the raw untamed passion of a younger Polly Jean Harvey (circa Rid of Me) exists a visionary known as Allroh and make no mistake about this…she is brilliant.
From the moment we wake until the time when we travel to unconsciousness, our lives are filled with moments of quiet solitude as well as a frantic turbulence. It’s the curious balance of these two that help remind us we are alive and it’s this homeostasis that carries us through our days and sometimes into the land of dreams as well. Allroh appears desperately aware of these elements which wage war constantly inside us. Through some inate talent and ability, she channels them from inside our cells and most private living spaces and they add up to music. Sometimes, the music doesn’t feel like chord progressions at all. It feels like the energy inside of us being shown as finitely as a mirror. It should be no surprise if witnessing Allroh could cause some to gasp out loud. For, some forget this potential and need to be reminded how acutely they are alive. It’s a knife pulling apart our insides just as surely as it’s a comforting lullaby that could rock us to sleep. One thing I am absolutely convinced: There is no one quite like Allroh nor will there ever be if the world exists another thousand years from now.