The Aces magnetize Amsterdam (November 11, 2018)
I don’t exactly recall how I first discovered The Aces a few months ago but the fact that I did will for sure end up on the “THAT WAS AMAZING IN 2018” list I am going to draft on New Year’s Eve. These four women from Provo, Utah have swiftly become one of my favorite bands. Their debut album “When My Heart Felt Volcanic” is a delight that I’ve been playing on repeat these last months and recommend to anyone who allows me to talk about music to them.
Every other day, a different song is my favorite. I thought the craving “Waiting For You” (“I thought I made it clear as crystal, it doesn’t have to be this hard. But you ain’t good at reading signals, when they come straight from the heart”) would forever be the one, before I fell in love with “Lovin’ Is Bible”, and later “Holiday”, then “Stuck”. Then “Last One”. The point is: I could list any song here. The melodies are incredibly catchy. The arrangement just does not get boring. The lyrics are honest (sometimes painfully so) and relatable. And Cristal’s voice takes all of it to a whole different level. That’s why, on a rainy Sunday, I went to see The Aces in the Melkweg and, hands down, it was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to.
I found myself amidst a crowd of about 200 extremely hip people (girls in the vast majority) waiting for Cristal, Katie, McKenna, and Alisa to finally hit the stage in the quite intimate venue. On Twitter, the “Girlies”, as they call themselves, had promised a great night and what they offered was the definition of delivering.
The Aces came in exuding a sense of euphoria and gratefulness for having sold out the venue in a city they – if you believe their Instagram – had collectively fallen in love with. Throughout the night, it was easy to read this gratitude, maybe even a sense of disbelief for what was happening to them, in their faces. I spotted McKenna breaking into a genuine laugh every now and then when she observed the crowd dancing. Taking turns introducing their songs, all four of them expressed how much they loved Amsterdam and how thankful they were to be here. You hear bands say that a lot but with these four somehow there was no doubt that came straight from the heart.
It was evident these four excellent musicians were enjoying themselves and the energy they radiated, was multiplied and transferred onto the rest of the hall. The third song in, no one was standing still anymore. The audience was so ready for The Aces to blow their minds. Katie’s and McKenna’s guitar and bass playing skills received more than one round of applause and audible admiration. They were just so cool. Spellbound, everyone was hanging on Cristal’s lips, one person even proposing to her. And that was before she performed a stripped-down version of “Hurricane” with Katie which was so beautifully raw that it made my little heart sting. Personally, I could have watched Alisa playing the drums like in trance all evening long and would have been entertained like hell. And that is not only due to my weakness for girls behind drums. This one was really giving it her all: hammering into those drums, grinning and smiling at the crowd singing along religiously, singing along herself, getting up to stoke up the mass even more.
To be honest, all of them jamming together on that stage was nothing short of inspiring. Watching them master their instruments made me want to pick up a guitar myself. And I bet I was not the only one who thought that. This evening felt so special and powerful to me and I tried to get to the bottom of why that was. I realized it was the very first time I went to see an all-female band. I also realized I needed more of that. I was empowered simply by watching them. This realization is so striking to me because first of all, I listen to music involving women probably 80 % of the time and second of all, I attend a lot of shows. Yet, the women I saw were either solo artists or forming a band with at least one guy.
What added to the whole experience was the astounding extent to which the audience knew the lyrics to all the songs. I’d like to believe that Cristal when she realized that, took advantage and let us sing a lot. My favorite moment might have been when Katie instead of only backing Cristal sang by herself because Cristal had directed HER microphone towards the crowd. Hearing her own voice only Katie looked surprised, before breaking into a laugh with the rest of the girlies. But with these situations, I always wonder how it must feel to stand on a stage thousands of kilometers away from home and have your own words echoed back to you by a room full of strangers.
The night closed with a performance of “Stuck” and the energy the song deserves. Everyone went WILD. It could not have been better. Watch out, world, that was only the beginning. There’s no doubt we saw four rock stars that night. The Aces are going places.