Show Review: K.Flay and Hello Mary at Empire Live in Albany, NY

About a month after finishing her tour with Grandson, K.Flay began a short run of shows at venues in Maine, Vermont, and upstate New York, finishing in Buffalo on August 12. These shows precede the highly anticipated release of her fifth studio album Mono, expected out September 15. Just five days later, she will be launching a European tour beginning in Warsaw, Poland, with eight dates announced so far.

The third of these four shows in August took place at Empire Live in the heart of Albany, NY. Canadian rock act Arkells was scheduled to play on this date as well. Their cancellation ahead of Friday’s show left K.Flay headlining with one opening act, Brooklyn’s burgeoning alt-rock shoegaze trio, Hello Mary. With prior individual track releases and their debut, self-titled EP release in March of this year, they’ve been broadening their fanbase, opening for numerous alternative and indie acts to great fanfare from audiences and established colleagues alike.

Having just finished a National tour supporting Blondshell, they finished the summer with K.Flay on her Portland, Burlington, and Albany shows. They played a solid 40 minutes that proved exciting and impressive to anyone unfamiliar with Hello Mary. I look forward to hearing more from a very promising young band.

As the headlining set began, K.Flay’s silhouetted figure emerged, joined by a drummer and bassist/guitarist. The mid-tempo thumping of the bass riff from “The President Has A Sex Tape” introduced her soft rhythmic vocals as orange light began to flood the background. She followed up with “Four Letter Words” backed by guitar and drums, and rounded out the three-song intro with “Giver” driven by distorted bass and heavy beat sampling.

Taking time to talk to the crowd after “Dark Wave,” K.Flay encouraged everyone in the crowd to embrace their eccentricities and artistic sides, insisting we all stay weird before performing the low-fi, playful “Weirdo.”

About halfway through the 19-song set, the audience was treated to “In America” off the new album, only the second time the song has been performed live. It was followed up by Mono’s most recent single, “Shy.” The audience then heard K.Flay’s biggest hit to date, “Blood In The Cut.” What they may not have expected was the was K.Flay would mash up the song with Rage Against The Machine’s “Bulls On Parade.”

Then K.Flay got a bit serious, speaking to the crowd about her recent battle with hearing loss and labyrinthitis, ultimately leaving her deaf in her right ear. She felt vulnerable and worried that she might not be able to create her art as she had been. This past year has seen her overcome and adapt. It was her biggest influence in setting the tone for the upcoming album.

She continued the set with another half dozen songs nearing the end of the night with the initial single from Mono, “Raw Raw,” directly tackling the subject of her auditory struggles and how that vulnerability and uncertainty felt. The new track has already topped her catalog to become her best-received single since “Blood In The Cut.” The set was capped with long-time fan favorite, “High Enough.”

K.Flay setlist 8/11/23 at Empire Live, Albany, NY:

The President Has A Sex Tape
Four Letter Words
Black Wave
This Baby Don’t Cry
Nothing Can Kill Us
In America
Blood On Parade (Blood In The Cut/Bulls On Parade)
Maybe There’s A Way
Can’t Sleep
Make Me Fade
Yes I’m Serious
Raw Raw
High Enough


Hello Mary

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