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TORRES Radiates Fearless Confidence at Intimate Valley Bar Show in Phoenix

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Tucked away in a shadowy, inconspicuous alley in the heart of downtown Phoenix, the shrouded ambience of Valley Bar was fitting for the sound that TORRES was bringing with her. The trendy basement-level bar and music venue welcomed the indie-alternative singer with open arms on April 2nd. TORRES, the pseudonym of New York-based Makenzie Scott, visited Phoenix as part of the final leg of her US tour in support of her sixth studio album What an enormous room, which was released in January.

Shortly after the end of an upbeat opening set from indie-pop musician Liza Anne, the lights in the small room dimmed once more as the full band that composed TORRES’ sound walked onto the stage. Taking a moment to compose herself and pick up her guitar, Scott soon dove into early hits from her discography like “Good Scare” and “Cowboy Guilt” that showcased the poised, darker indie style that had been a calling card of her earlier work. As she reached the third song on her set, “Happy man’s shoes” from What an enormous room, her expression shifted slightly into a smile as she began. With lines like “Baby, my star’s just on the rise” delivered in a nearly spoken word-esque style, it gradually became clear that Scott wasn’t just recounting memories or emotions, she’s actively living in the self-reassurance and fearless confidence that the song seemed to describe.

TORRES radiates fearless confidence at intimate Valley Bar show in Phoenix in celebration of her brand new album, What an enormous room.
TORRES radiates fearless confidence at intimate Valley Bar show in Phoenix in celebration of her brand new album, What an enormous room.

Another standout on the setlist was “Skim”, a track with a gritty and hollow sound, bound together by a steady, slightly distorted guitar riff across the duration of the song that filled in the gap between bitterly delivered lyrics like ‘Do you just hate him more than you love me? / Never been this sore for alkalinity’. Despite the time that has passed since the release of the 2017 track, the live delivery still carried hints of a lifelong, lingering feeling of betrayal, telling of how deeply many of TORRES’ songs reflect emotions that maintain roots deep within her psyche.

TORRES radiates fearless confidence at intimate Valley Bar show in Phoenix in celebration of her brand new album, What an enormous room.
TORRES radiates fearless confidence at intimate Valley Bar show in Phoenix in celebration of her brand new album, What an enormous room.

The time since the release of that song, though, has been kind to Scott. Much of her latest LP reflects a newly discovered sense of serenity and mundane joy in her life as she embraced the glimmers of light and hope throughout her life. The relationships in her daily life form the foundation of this light, ranging from platonic and romantic to even the perception she has of herself. Shifting away from the seething resent of her previous song, Scott proceeded to fully lean into the delight of her present day life with “Forever home”. Explaining that the song was dedicated to one of her closest friends who is the same ‘Baby girl, McConnell’ that she compassionately sings about in each verse.

From this point in the set, a pattern became apparent within the setlist of alternating between songs off older projects and songs from the newest album. Rather than being for the purpose of promotion, it felt more as if this was Scott’s manner of grounding herself in her present, sunny reality as she delved back into the themes of all her previous works.

TORRES radiates fearless confidence at intimate Valley Bar show in Phoenix in celebration of her brand new album, What an enormous room.
TORRES radiates fearless confidence at intimate Valley Bar show in Phoenix in celebration of her brand new album, What an enormous room.

Pausing for a moment to tune her guitar, Scott reaffirmed this in a way as she began recounting small details of her upbringing as in a religious family in the Southern town of Macon, Georgia. Reminiscing over how this initially inspired a harsh representation of her early life within her music, she acknowledged the nuanced perspective that one develops as they age and recognized that she’s had to learn to sing some of her older songs more mercifully.

On the other hand, Scott also recounted how she’s reached a point in her life where she’s the happiest she’s ever been, though she had to change her mindset on certain things to get there. This came across clearly as a central point of the next song on the set “Jerk into joy”, which is an ode to finding the light at the end of the tunnel and finding the conviction necessary to continue moving forward into your own happiness, in spite of the hardships life brings. It was a much needed reminder to the crowd to ‘Jerk into joy / When the light goes out / Jerk into joy / When plans go south’.

Jerk into joy
When the light goes out
Jerk into joy
When plans go south

It was also the focus of “Wake to flowers”, where the juxtaposition of lyrics like ‘Loneliness, deaths of pets and parents’ and ‘The way you hold me way too tight, when we sleep / Didn’t know I’d wake to flowers / After goin’ to sleep to rain’ highlighted how Scott has finally made it to the light at the end of her own tunnel after a long period of uncertainty as to whether or not she ever would. Speaking on the song as she once again tuned her guitar, Scott lovingly described the subjects of the song: the family she’s found within her wife, stepson, and puppy back home in New York. It was one of the purest moments of the night, clearly and inarguably showing how deeply the new album is rooted in love for the current state of her life, leveraging it to encourage listeners to find their own hope.

The set finally came to a close with “Collect” and “Helen in the Woods”, accompanied by an encore of “Gracious Day”, much to the disappointment of a small, cheering crowd that would have gladly stayed all night to listen to the full TORRES discography. With a masterful style of lyrical writing and clear eye for production arrangements that capture attention with ease, it’s a wonder that Scott is not already headlining sold out shows at Phoenix’s bigger venues. If one thing is certain, it’s that she’s building a growing, dedicated fan base in Arizona that would attend any and every show she returns to our state for.

Show Date: 04.02.24 // Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar // TORRES Radiates Fearless Confidence at Intimate Valley Bar Show in Phoenix
Photos & words by Brian Mecinas

Brian Mecinas
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Based in Phoenix, Arizona! Environmentalist by day and concert photographer by night <3
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