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TRCH Classic Thriller Season

Live Music Review: Arlo Parks at The Bodega

10 March 20 words: Ceryn Morris

19-year-old Londoner Arlo Parks is the voice of her 'Super Sad' generation...

Photo: Patrick Gunning

Showcasing her soulful bedroom pop, Arlo Parks has been making an impression on the UK music scene since her debut single Cola was released in 2018. Navigating the emotional turmoil of adolescence, love and mental health in her lyrics, Parks is quickly becoming the poet laureate for Gen-Z.

Selling out Nottingham’s Bodega months in advance, the crowd fill the intimate space anticipating her arrival. Opening with a slow instrumental from her band, the air fizzes with excitement as Parks saunters on to the stage, appearing naturally confident and at home centre-stage.

Opening with hit-single Paperbacks, her soft vocals narrating, “I think I hate you but I don’t know why”, vocalises the confusion and turmoil of young love. Parks describes herself as “that black kid, who couldn’t dance for shit, listening to too much emo music and crushing on some girl in her Spanish class”. These emotions are evident in her lyrics as she narrates feelings of awkwardness, being an outsider and fluid sexuality, along with the jealousy and confusion that comes to light when platonic and romantic love blurs as heard in her latest single Eugene. It is evident the predominantly young crowd relate to these emotions and comically offer agreeing nods to lines like “start doing ketamine on weekends”.

Transitioning from song to song she chats freely, uninhibited by the full room and spotlight. Introducing unreleased songs such as Punk Rock Eyes, influenced by her love of Janis Joplin and The Stooges whilst growing up, and Black Dog, finding inspiration from losing someone close to her. Despite the solemn context of the latter song, the backbeat is an uplifting one accompanied by lines like “take your medicine and eat some food”, turning grief into a ballad about friendship and opening up the conversation regarding medication, depression and grief.

She is an important new talent for the younger generation, using her craft to find meaning in this ever-confusing world. Bringing out a battered notebook she recites a poem she wrote earlier in the day after struggling with the previous night’s hangover:

“And then I realise that I’m not thinking about the things that hurt, that burn, that can’t be fixed – I’m just walking through Nottingham with a headache.” You can read the full poem on her Instagram here.

Her confessional and tender qualities are what makes her so appealing and her seamless balance of personal lyrics, dreamy progressions and catchy backbeats mean she’s certainly one to keep your eye on.

Arlo Parks played The Bodega on Thursday 5 March with support from Mathilda Mann.



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