Limbo Charms New York City's Mercury Lounge

BY SCARLETT LIRIANO CEPIN

“What’s going on at the Mercury Lounge tonight?” a random passerby asked the two men in front of me. He seemed surprised, almost as if the line wrapping around the block was an unusual sight to see on a Tuesday night. “Limbo,” they answered simply, exchanging enthusiastic grins with each other. Their answer was met with what seemed to be confusion, but they didn’t care. Doors opened in a couple of minutes, and at this point, the line was practically buzzing.

PHOTO: Ethan Masliansky

PHOTO: Ethan Masliansky

Self-produced San Francisco Bay Area creator Limbo is best known for how she prefers to separate details about her identity from her work as an artist. She wears multiple masks, the most recognizable of them being the signature white cat mask she dons in  many of her album covers. Her 2019 tour, The Sunshine Tour, shares a name with her latest single and has her trekking all over the country this summer. She was accompanied by artists sndwn. and Zane Schaffer for her stop at New York City’s Mercury Lounge.

Once inside, the crowd was greeted by the beats of sndwn. who was eventually joined by special guest Asoh Black. They hyped the crowd up for what was to come by playing their latest single together, “You Showed Me,”. Zane Schaffer took the stage after the brief interlude that followed sndwn., successfully managing to put the audience in a trance-like state with his lo-fi sound before Limbo’s set. Throughout the show, Limbo teased fans and supported her openers by making occasional appearances in the audience and dancing around to the music of her peers

PHOTO: Ethan Masliansky

PHOTO: Ethan Masliansky

At 11:15 pm, she slipped onto the stage, accompanied by three teddy bears and a laptop. True to form, Limbo was wearing her iconic cat mask as she walked out, the bright red lighting reflecting off of the white plastic on her face. After testing her equipment and settling down on a stool with an acoustic guitar, she was ready to go. 

“I’m gonna play a couple of acoustic songs for you guys... because I want to,” she said, strumming the initial notes of the song “Best Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes. 

She continued to sprinkle in covers to keep her set interesting throughout the night, at one point even doing a mashup of songs popular on the social media platform TikTok: “Hit or Miss” by ILOVEFRIDAY, “U Was at the Club” by The BoyBoy West Coast, and the hit “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X. She also played a rendition of “All Star” by Smash Mouth, ad-libbing and inserting lyrics.

The energy when she sung covers transformed into something else entirely the minute she started to perform her own music. It was impossible not to follow suit as she swayed along to her own lyrics during the songs “Tired,” “Crown,” and “U Know Only U,”among others. The stuffed animals on the table watched on as she segued from song to song. 

Even though she was using her computer for her set, the brief moments she spent behind it did not feel distancing, because of her commitment to continually interact with the crowd. She would look directly at and dance towards the audience. Before her song “Sunshine,” Limbo announced to the crowd that she would be pointing at specific members of the audience, and when she did, she wanted whoever she was pointing at to pretend to be a ball of sunshine. She kept the audience engaged and excited, even when she experienced brief technical difficulties that didn’t disrupt the show in any way whatsoever. 

PHOTO: Ethan Masliansky

PHOTO: Ethan Masliansky

You could tell how much the audience was enjoying the level of artist-fan interaction they were experiencing; they answered every question Limbo asked the crowd without hesitation. The song “Tinder” produced the most response. Everyone shouted along as Limbo sang the lyrics and, “Ooooh, Tinder you’ve got me fucked up,” reverberated around the room.

As the show neared its end, Limbo premiered some new material for the eager New Yorkers who were there to see her. Electrified by the the new song and the entire interactive set, the room loudly sang and danced along to Limbo’s final song, “Airplane Mode,” which stands as her most played song on Spotify. The audience received it with the same unwavering enthusiasm they were shown all night. 

Limbo’s Sunshine tour continues in the cities of Tampa, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Napa. For more information, check out her website.

Lead Image Credit: Ethan Masliansky