It may have been a chill dreary Monday, but inside Philadelphia’s Fillmore, Ingrid Michaelson and friends made it feel like the most cozy and fun of Saturday nights. It’s a space the size of a small warehouse, and the floor was cleared for standing room, which made an excellent scene for a night of heartwarming folky pop.
An opening set of oddball indietronica by AJR sounded ill-fitting for the bill, honestly, yet didn’t throw off the quirky vibe completely before the main act. Soon enough, Michaelson’s band entered in a haze of swirling lights and sound washes for the sweetly lush “Light Me Up,” then had the room hopping the moment the low piano notes launched into “Time Machine.”
She’s come a long way from her early days, when Philly was the first stop outside her home base of Staten Island (“Tin Angel, y’all!”). Now she boasts a superb five-piece backing band and major-league light show, but hasn’t lost that quaint indie spirit– and hopefully never will. The stage’s cloth backdrops were decorated like diary pages full of hand-scribbled lyrics. As tight and professional as the performance was, she also wasn’t afraid to share awkward stories, laugh off flubbed lines and joke with the audience like we were all hanging out in her living room.
At one point, Michaelson confessed to shaking off a lingering cold, though the swooping vocal acrobatics never gave any hint that she was in less than top shape. She went solo with a ukulele for a mid-set stretch, featuring a perversely cute take on Radiohead’s “Creep.” Once the band returned, it was time to stay unplugged and gather around the mikes to sing in campfire-style harmony. They bounced through a charming “Be OK” and led a room-wide singalong of “You and I” which, if I was the kind of guy to use words like “adorable,” I’d say it absolutely was.
Soon it was time to rock ‘n’ roll with dazzling lighting again, though Michaelson’s personality and genuine heart always shone through the flash. She effortlessly had the captivated crowd singing their hearts out with one huge chorus after another, from the joyous anthem “Afterlife” up to a thundering “Hell No” for a finale.
It wasn’t really surprising to hear “Girls Chase Boys” for a bouncy encore. It was almost surreal to hear it followed by a hilarious Right Said Fred cover—yes, that one—which managed to land on the right side of camp and give every band member a lighthearted chance to strut their funky stuff. Unexpected or not, this crowd couldn’t have asked for a better sendoff to leave them laughing all the way home.