In the cramped basement of the Cambridge Community Center, Taraneh performed to a small, yet enraptured crowd on Sunday afternoon at the Boston Hassle. The room was dim with a concrete floor and bare white walls made to glow hot pink by the stage lights. The audience was packed in with very little space to move from place to place. People made their way down from the equally crowded Boston Hassle flea market to follow the siren’s call of the promise of a unique performance. The lineup for the rest of the day’s show was stacked with hard core punk, heavy metal, and grindcore — leaving Taraneh to stand alone in a dream pop alternate reality.
Taraneh sports vivid red and black hair with an edgy haircut. She was wearing an oversize black hoodie and wide legged faux leather pants. She later took off the hoodie to reveal a black t shirt that proclaimed, “Eat shit you fucking rednecks.” She’s willowy with a subdued but focused energy. She began the concert playing her electric guitar over a track of a small child speaking and intoning in her low timbre, “Do you think I’m pretty?” This eventually led to a refrain “Am I good enough?” repeated over and over until the atmosphere was so trancelike the audience was transported to a dream state along with her.
She held us all in this trance for the remainder of her set– 7 entire songs. Pacing back and forth across the floor, changing the mood of the room with a simple head tilt or a hand gesture. She swung the microphone in time to the drum beat with the practiced ease of a maestro. Her pacing back and forth never quickened; her gaze intense as she stared into the eyes of the audience members. At a couple of points, she crouched down as she sang and drew the crowd even further into her world. There was a long musical interlude during one song, played by a backing track, and even through that she managed to keep everyone’s focus with her gestures and energy.
Taraneh’s throaty vocals commanded the crowd and just when I found myself thinking “this really feels like a dream” she began to sing “It feels like I’m living in a dream.” It was unexpected to be so transported into a haunting, otherworldly realm from the basement of the Community Center. Everything paused for those brief moments, and we all stood and sat in Taraneh’s world that she created. The set list was Pretty, Use Me, Walking, Ask and Receive, Farda, On Repeat, and Deal. With her 3rd album coming out in April I look forward to seeing what Taraneh has in store for us next.