Ah, the Roaring Twenties. Known for the birth of mass consumerism, F. Scott Fitzgerald novels, speakeasies and — of course — Cornell Homecoming. For more than a century, Homecoming has boosted school spirit, and now offers current students a chance to connect with alumni on a level deeper than LinkedIn. This year marks the first regular Homecoming Weekend since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Big Red community celebrated with a fireworks show, a festival, a football game against Yale and an evening concert. Sponsored by the Cornell Concert Commission and the Division of Alumni Affairs and Development, Barton Hall was lucky enough to host singer-songwriter Indigo De Souza and indie pop group lovelytheband.
After missing the rest of the Homecoming festivities to write an essay, I was thrilled to attend the concert. I submitted my essay and headed straight for Barton Hall. I’ll admit, I always underestimate the campus hills, so I arrived fashionably late compared to the 7 p.m. showtime. Only slightly lost and shins moderately burning, I finally arrived. Thankfully, I made it in time to watch the guest performer, Indigo De Souza. Having heard songs by lovelytheband and read the concert description, I was expecting De Souza’s music to match the indie pop vibe. With an album titled I Love My Mom, my assumptions were along the lines of Conan Gray, Cavetown, Beach Bunny or even mxmtoon. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
My parents raised me on George Strait, Crazy Frog and Brandy Clark. I weathered a long emo phase in middle school just to revert back to my childhood Taylor Swift obsession in high school — the point being, I usually consider myself well-versed in the vast extent of what music can be, which Indigo De Souza made me completely question. I have never heard anything nearly comparable to the gut-wrenching depths and soul-crushing highs of her voice. Every word sung sounds like a plea, every song a soliloquy of absolute anguish.
Especially in the song “Ghost,” De Souza has a unique wailing ability. Somehow sounding both desperate and self-assured as she sings, “[t]hese tits will ghost on your forever,” De Souza’s lyrics and voice capture the dichotomy between what we feel and what we present to the world. With rainbow lights swirling around Barton Hall, a slideshow of seemingly random pictures quickly flashing on stage and couples rolling around on the floor next to the crowd, this guest performer definitely brought an aesthetic I could have never imagined. In the best way possible, her beautiful cries will haunt me indefinitely.
The vibe shift from De Souza to lovelytheband was insane. After having my heart twisted and my stomach turned by “Kill Me,” it’s shocking how quickly I could turn around and dance to lovelytheband’s “loneliness for love.” As soon as lovelytheband’s signature lipstick stain cover for their album finding it hard to smile appeared on stage, though, I was ready. The 1975-esque band immediately clicked with the crowd. With the band members’ incredible energy and lively songs, people stopped their floor rolling to dance (or, at least, there were enough people dancing around them). A personal highlight was hearing “make you feel pretty” for the first time, a really fun song and perfect for singing along. Some of the lyrics even perfectly described how I’m sure many of us felt during Homecoming Weekend:
Oh my God
My life is such a mess
Oh my God
I think that I need some rest …
Have I really lost it?
Maybe, maybe I’m out of my mind
The band’s sound is distinctly indie pop. Reminiscent of Grouplove, COIN and Neon Trees, their upbeat vocals and instrumentals often hide sad lyrics. Before the final song, the lead vocalist Mitchy Collins took the time to remind students to check up on the people around them. Whether it be your friend, relative or even someone you don’t like, they may be fighting a hidden battle with their mental health. He reminded us that it’s never a sign of weakness to ask for help.
Following this speech was the band’s hit song, “broken.” Now that I have this platform, I need to use it to let the world know: this song is my ‘I liked it before it was cool’ moment. “broken” was a favorite on my summer 2019 playlist. For me, the song is laced with nostalgia and heartache for the simpler times of summer. In that sense, lovelytheband was the perfect performer for the Homecoming concert. The transition to college has been exciting, confusing and full of homesickness. This concert reminded me just what home feels like and shone a light of hope for building a new home here in Ithaca.
Isabella Hackett is a freshman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].