I was walking through San Francisco’s Mission district Thursday night when a friend and I had the good fortune of discovering Emily Afton through a secret gig put on by So Far Sounds.
We could hear music from across the street on Valencia and noticed a crowd gathering in front of a small bicycle shop. Normally I wouldn't have paid too much attention, but the vibe was appealing so we decided to see what was up. We flashed a smile to the guys at the door, and a few short minutes later we were at the front of a 40 person crowd, bicycle tires hanging above our heads, makeshift wooden podium in front of our feet. We were instructed to sit right where we standing. We obliged. Someone offered us a beer. We accepted. Off to a pretty decent start.
When Emily Afton took the stage, the chatter from the audience grew silent. We watched as she made easy, casual conversation with the intimate crowd, smiling, empathically praising the band that played before her and expressing gratitude for the opportunity to perform for us. She seemed genuine and authentic. Did I mention she’s gorgeous? She had me hooked before even opening her mouth.
Then, she started singing. I was not expecting such a strong, smokey, cathartic voice to come from someone that, well, smiley. There’s a serious depth to her voice that suggests the emotional depth of someone who's faced adversity, suffering, and grief, and come out the other side transformed for the better. As aptly put by another new fan at the end of the night, “Emily’s voice will make you want to fall in love and cry at the same time”. Spot on.
Emily and band members Patrick Aguirre (drums) and Semih Yanyeli (guitar) went on to serenade us with four tracks from their first and only album, “Archetype”, released this past September. Lost and Someday kept the crowd’s feet tapping while Archetype connected with me on a deeply vulnerable level. Her lyrics are like poetry from a grieving heart. She's been called a modern day Fiona Apple, but I see her music as an indie, moody, pop version of Tori Amos from the 1992 Little Earthquake album, meets Banks or Tei Shi.
The California native and her band plan to tour the new album throughout 2017. Only a handful of shows are listed on her site, but hopefully it's a guise and you can spot her more frequently at intimate venues throughout SF & LA. I’ve had her album on all day; she’s definitely made my week.