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Mary Lambert Makes Us Laugh, Cry, and Sing Along in Intimate Solo Performance NYC's SubCulture

Mary Lambert Makes Us Laugh, Cry, and Sing Along in Intimate Solo Performance at NYC's SubCulture

Mary Lambert Makes Us Laugh, Cry, and Sing Along in Intimate Solo Performance at NYC's SubCulture

Secret's out; Mary Lambert is a star.


Mary Lambert's been quite busy lately. At just 25 years old, her "Same Love" hook - inspired by her life growing up as a lesbian in a conservative Christian household - has dominated the radio, she's performed with Madonna on the Grammys, and she's about to headline her own national tour starting next month. But last Saturday night at SubCulture, a charming, cozy venue on the New York City's Lower East Side, Mary performed as though her small but adoring audience meant the world to her and proved that, despite her recent surge of fame, she's still very much herself. Lucky for us, because her honest, passionate voice is one that needs to be heard.

Having just performed a first set a couple hours before, Mary approached the late night crowd with a fun looseness that still managed to stay mostly professional (or maybe it's that even at her silliest or most rambling, she's far too pleasant and adorable to wish she'd stop). The evening, which Mary spent entirely alone behind a piano, featured new songs from her upcoming album, Heart on My Sleeve (out this October!) interspersed with stories that ranged from totally hysterical to intensely intimate. Mary will remind you often that she's not a private person, in fact the first lyrics of her new single "Secrets" are "I've Got Bipolar Disorder" (and that's the self-described "fun song"). Her pain resonates deeply in the lyrics of her spoken word poems and self-written music, but so does her joy, her admirable capacity for love, and her appreciation for the smallest things in life. She's able to take trauma and destruction and turn them into works of art, but in a moment she can also fully convince you that lying in bed next to a loved one is the most wonderful feeling in the world. And if you ever thought you wouldn't cry during a cover of "Jesse's Girl" (which she had never done in a concert before) just wait till you hear Mary's chord-striking rendition, where not a pronoun is changed. And while she's a talented musician and lyricist (the un-released song "Born Sad" is worth checking out), it's her spoken word poetry that often hits the hardest. Her piece "Body Love" from the EP Welcome to the Age of My Body should be mandatory listening for young people trying to fit into what Mary called the "Cycle of Fuckery" that is the unrealistic expectations in today's media. Body Love is the perfect demonstration of what Mary's personal lyrics so often achieve; a feeling not of, 'Oh, I love this song!' but 'Damn, I need this song.'

Though Mary's set is filled with the kind of sadness that often brought tears to audience members' eyes, her bright, untempered personality never let the room feel too dark for too long. Though she couldn't see the audience, she insisted we were beautiful because we "have beautiful laughs." Towards the end of the evening, she even took questions from the audience before coming back for an encore of "She Keeps Me Warm," because even though she's played it 1000+ times, she understands how important it's been to both her and her fans. "I know now that music can affect change," Mary said before departing for the night, and after an evening together, it's safe to say change truly is her motive. Not only is Mary an artist who proudly sings about women when she sings love songs and trumpets body positivity, but she's an artist who's unafraid to do so. Her fame hasn't softened her searing life views or restrained her electric perspective, but instead given her a stronger platform to be heard. It's not hard to believe her upcoming tour could truly change the lives - the adoring cheers of her fans at SubCulture already proved this has been true. We're so excited for the inspiring future of Mary's career and can't wait to see what she's got for us next. 

Photo Credit: Jennifer Walkowiak


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Preston Max Allen