It is no secret that as time marches on, so do popular trends or what is expected to be the norm. As we get closer to sealing another decade behind us, the trend for music has evolved into so much more. In the past recent years, music has become so much more than just songs. We have seen the revival of conceptual albums, including ones that pair track-by-track in visual form (Fall Out Boy’s Save Rock and Roll, Beyonce’s Lemonade) and growing ever more popular is merging the realms of music and art, whether it be through inside looks through the recording process or booklets, polaroids, flash sheets… any added material to better tell the story behind the album.
Even more impressive is the mesh of comics and music. In the past, we have seen artists such as: Gerard Way (ex-My Chemical Romance, solo artist) who first released a six-issue miniseries version of his The Umbrella Academy which is now being turned into a live-action Netflix series. Claudio Sanchez (Coheed and Cambria) who began his popular series, The Amory Wars back nearly 20 years ago and has tied in the stories of his comic volumes through the band’s music, matching albums with volumes in both themes and titles. Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave) who wrote a dystopian series Orchid which uses zombies to spread messages of political and social justice, also paired with Morello’s music. Also included in this list is Ryan Key (ex-Yellowcard) who is writing for Marvel’s Enter The Venomverse and Max Bemis (Say Anything) who has written for Marvel’s A+X in addition to his comic, Oh, Killstrike.
In July of 2017 came another addition to this growing list, Valerie Poxleitner (who may better be known as her stage name, Lights) when she released her first volume of her comic, Skin & Earth and come late September came the album to match. Lights has said to have always linked comic books and music together, but Skin & Earth is her first conceptual album tying together her own series, written and illustrated by herself in association with Dynamite Entertainment.
The comic features the female protagonist, Enaia Jin, who is looking for hope in a hopeless, post-apocalyptic world. The story becomes one of light vs. darkness as it is explained Enaia becomes “entangled” with a dark spiritual friend who proves to be connected
to the world around her than Enaia ever thought possible. Each song on the album ties in with the comic and one of the six issues.
Fans were able to get a taste of just that on Monday night as Lights’ headlining tour stopped at San Francisco’s own Fillmore. With support from pop solo artist/dj DCF and alternative pop/rock Chase Atlantic, Lights’ set foot on stage ready to take her fans on a journey through her creation. Of course, not without a bit of her usual charm as she stood, her silhouette illuminated by the LED screen behind her, in position, only to run off side-stage and return a beat later. Lights joked later in the evening that she had actually walked on stage ready to begin without her microphone, explaining that it had just been “one of those days” and she was ecstatic to be spending and bettering it with the elated fans singing and dancing along.
BE SURE TO SCROLL BELOW TO SEE PHOTOS FROM THE EVENING.
Her set began with material taken right from her new release, “New Fears” kicked off the night, bleeding right into “Savage.” As Lights danced along the stage, the LED screen began showing clips and illustrations of her comic series behind her, flawlessly tying together the lyrics she sang with the story fans are still anxiously waiting to unfold.
The night plays out with Lights’ seamlessly blending tracks from Skin & Earth with some of her older releases, “Second Go” from her debut 2009 album, The Listening and “Toes”/“Siberia” from her 2011 sophomore release, Siberia. Following, “Moonshine” off of Skin & Earth comes a short video interlude following the females Enaia and Tsu from her comic before the neons and bright colors are swept away for something a bit darker, more intimate. A piano covered in wax drippings and lit candles are brought to the stage as Lights performs three acoustic songs, one of which, “February Air” she admits she has yet to play all week, despite it being the month mentioned. The track was followed by “Muscle Memory” which Lights performs with guitar in hand after a wardrobe change. Someone from the crowd screams, “You’re so fine,” and she jokes, “My jacket? Yeah. It’s so fun. So many colors…” before teasing about free puns and leading how the next song is rumored to be about masturbation. The instruments pause for seconds in the song, allowing Lights’ voice to echo eerily throughout the historic venue.
With a third outfit change, this time to a sheer hooded number, there is no issues picking back up the energy for the night as Lights performs “Skydiving,” “Kicks” which featured a Street Fighter scene in addition to clips from the Sailor Moon series.
“If you have a dream and you want to do it… what’s holding you back? Just f*cking do it. With YouTube University, you can do anything… like how I learned to make a comic book and now we’re here. Talking about my comic book…” Lights shares with the crowd in a motivational speech, before going into detail about her comic’s intent. She shares it’s a comic about dealing with mental health, “Things we think make us broken do not make us broken. It makes us stronger.” She holds up her guitar, sharing that it was created to embody her main character, En and Lights’ wastes no time in kicking off a song about when she was younger, “Running With The Boys,” looking just as comfortable with the guitar as she was without it, showcasing her flexibility and her talents to do it all.
The night wound down with an encore of “Same Sea” and “Giants,” the electro-pop four-piece band headed by Lights being able to showcase her trademark sound that is a little bit of everything — electronic, pop, rock, dubstep — but never falling flat or being predictable in sound like so many other of the same genre have since this popular sound seemed to edge out others in the mainstream music scene. Lights remains unique through her soft yet goosebump-giving vocals (think a darker/electro-pop Lana Del Rey, vibes we definitely caught during her acoustic moments) and her ability to pick and choose from inspired sounds, her dance, electronic, pop/rock hybrid tracks are easily recognizable the moment you hear them as one of Lights’ own. To see her bring these elements to life, her songs and comics is an absolute treat recommended for anyone whether familiar or completely new to discovering Lights.
Don’t just take our word for it. Be sure to check out her latest release for “We Were Here,” which follows Lights as she tells her story of Skin & Earth.
Toes (Singalong Intro)
Up We Go
Cactus In the Valley (Acoustic)
February Air (Acoustic)
Muscle Memory (Acoustic)
Running With the Boys
We Were Here
Almost Had Me