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Zola Jesus kicks off SXSW low and slow

Kayleigh Hughes, special to the American-Statesman
Zola Jesus performed at South by Southwest 2019. [CONTRIBUTED BY TIM SACCENTI]

"Dark wave” musician Nika Danilova, who performs as Zola Jesus, hit the Patreon House of Creativity stage on the first night of South by Southwest Music with just a keyboard and her voice. Noting that she is a “self-taught” piano player, the musician endearingly warned the audience that she was liable to make some performance mistakes.

But Danilova displayed a natural musicianship during her late-night set, playing with the limits of her pared-down instrumental setup and stretching her haunting voice.

It was all a bit hard to see, though, given the extremely low-set stage at Augustine’s. Without any eye-line, the crowd struggled to feel connected to Zola Jesus’ experimental, unhurried performance.


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