Slow Pulp delivers in Hell at the Masquerade

Emily Massey, lead singer of Slow Pulp, begins singing “Broadview” while hiding a harmonica behind her back. The crowd goes wild when she unveils and plays the instrument during the reprise. / Photo by Alec Grosswald Student Publications

On Oct. 28, 2023, Madison-turned-Chicago-based band Slow Pulp played a show at the Masquerade in “Hell,” the smallest of its three venues. They are currently on tour for their latest album release, “Yard.” Notable tracks from the band include “Falling Apart” and “High,” which both made their way onto the setlist.

The band formed in 2015 and contains four members, a group of friends originally from Madison, Wisconsin.

Due to the show being near Halloween, Slow Pulp requested via their Instagram that the attendees should come in costume. When the band members came out on stage, they revealed their Scooby-Doo outfits, with the keys player dressed in a Scooby onesie. The audience was a sea of characters and creatures alike. 

They opened with two songs off the new album: “Slugs” and “Carina Phone 1000.” The latter song brings up conflicting feelings shared by playing phone tag with a friend. The repeated line at the end, “That’s life I guess,” resonates with many people who are beginning their adult phase, whether it be college-aged or beyond.

They also played songs from their first album “Moveys,” including “Track” and “Falling Apart.” One unique song from this project is “Trade It,” with some of the back track echoing Alex G’s instrumentals.

Another standout moment was Emily Massey’s Phoebe Bridgers-esque vocals during “Cramps,” a new release off of “Yard.” Her range and ability to hold notes with only small breaths in between is nothing short of impressive. The lyrics repeat, “But I want everything,” and Massey’s voice added much power to the song. 

One of their singles, “At Home,” was fun to hear live, due to the catchy melody and interesting drum riffs. Massey’s voice echos “Should I try all over again? / To try all over again” in a beautiful tone, calling out to a potential lover about past regrets.

This show was especially interesting because the band had not one but three encore songs.

The first was “Yard” off the album of the same name, another song in which Massey shows off her impressive sustained notes. This song is only backed by other vocals and piano, so her vocals especially pop.

The next was highly requested by a few audience members throughout the show, titled “High.” The moment they opened with the lyrics “I have too much in my pockets / I wish they were empty,” the crowd cheered. 

The first verse starts off slow and soft with only Massey’s voice, acoustic guitar and some cymbals, but the moment the chorus kicks in, there is a lick from an electric guitar that raises the energy. The crowd began to bang their heads to the beat, singing the lyrics “I think I’m too high.” “Montana,” a song from their first project, closed out the set. It is a sweet song about making progress in terms of mental health. Near the end of the song, Massey pulled out a harmonica, and the crowd cheered.

Although small in following, Slow Pulp delivered an incredible performance. They certainly have some diehard fans. Next time they make it to the Atlanta area, be sure to check them out.