Making her headlining debut at the Moroccan Lounge, Hana Vu bathed the sold-out crowd in wave after wave of her kinetically existential songs. It would be a criminally short set with no encore (something she was upfront about from the beginning, though you can appreciate her desire to not go through the nonsense of leaving the stage only to be cheered back on). All of which were probably symptoms of the fact there was a later show taking place after Hana Vu finished. But for the time she was onstage the 22-year-old and her band gave a kind of swift pummeling of the senses, ego, and soul. One that rapturized this sense amongst everyone present that Vu just tapped into something unspoken.
Playing majorly from her debut, the viscerally introspective Public Space, Vu’s music disarms with just how melodically jumbled it is. Mixing the peripheries of angsty rock, swirling pop hooks, and linking them together in jarring but spellbinding soundscapes. It’s the disco spin of “Aubade” and the devilishly melancholic “Everybody’s Birthday,” the kind of jaunty music you weep over the lyrics as well as dance to. Not a body went unmoved while Hana Vu was onstage, nor a heart unbroken.
It’s no mistake that the album cover for Public Space is a high-contrast close-up of Vu’s mouth. Her songs mined voraciously from her own life. So it’s no surprise that every song plucked from the album to play at the Moroccan Lounge thundered in your head and left goosebumps on your skin, an effect repeated evermore when listening to Vu’s music. From the shuddering lurches of “My Home” and “Maker” to the anthemic collapses of hammered riffs that drop on the title track “Public Storage.” It was via that last song that Vu launched her finale. One that buckles under its burningly potent declarations of disbelief (in failure, family, magic), searing pessimism, and intense solipsism. But against and paradoxically in tandem with Hana Vu’s crushing lyricism, the song’s invigorating chorus – a plea to “Everyone’s champion,” an unnamed hero of the time, perhaps so because they do not exist – found some nerve to gush hope from as it all exploded in a crescendo.