Sevdaliza delivers unparalleled performance at The Novo

Sevdaliza The Novo 2018 mainbar

I have never seen a show remotely like the one Dutch-Iranian singer-songwriter-producer Sevdaliza delivered at The Novo on Saturday night in DTLA.

Easily one of the most unique performances I’ve ever seen, the singer blended aspects of artsy dance to go with her downtempo alt-R&B meets art-pop sound. The former Dutch national basketball star also has a master’s degree and is fluent in five languages — how many current pop stars have that kind of pedigree? It’s probably what feeds into her show seeming so intellectual, even cinematic. Also — Sevdaliza has the best eyebrows in the game, hands down.

I watched the show from the balcony and there was some serious love being shown to the singer — almost too much. There was one guy in the center of the front row on the balcony in some sort of outfit who seemed like he was on ecstasy and was dancing and grooving so hard that I thought he was actually part of the show.

Others couldn’t contain themselves and showed their adoration for Sevdaliza by shouting things at her — some of which I could have done without. Like the guy who yelled “YOU’RE MAKING ME MOIST” during a particularly moving part of the show. It was the second night in a row I was amongst a crowd that couldn’t read the room and keep from shouting obnoxious things at a singer.

The amount of thought Sevdaliza puts into her show seems to be immense. There was one single dancer that accompanied her on stage, with her drummer and synths players shrouded in darkness behind her. The choreography reminded me a bit of Aaliyah music videos towards the end of her career, and the production rivaled that of Flume on some songs. The closest comparison I can come up with for her show is how LA-based alt-R&B star BANKS approached her latest tour with a similar-styled dance addition.

The show was part of Sevdaliza’s first world tour in support of her debut studio full-length album ISON, a beautiful record that I highly recommend to approaching after smoking a joint. The standout song of the show to me was album cut “Hubris” with its soaring bridge that catches you completely off guard. “The autopsy report read / The insiders were beautiful,” Sevdaliza sang, where on the album it’s a robotic sound that voices it.

Sevdaliza also changed outfits just for the encore, coming out in a pink number that included a skirt with no back to it. She twirled around a few times and her dance partner returned to the stage, lifting her up for an intricate series of movements using their hands locked together.

It was easily one of the most unique sets I’ve seen in quite some time and I’m curious why no American music festivals booked her on their lineups this year. She seemed like a perfect fit for something like FORM Arcosanti or Boston Calling, or even perhaps the winter festival Day For Night. Hopefully we do see her in that capacity sometime in the future.

Photos by Justin Higuchi