The Hope College Concert Series began its 2018-2019 show season with a powerful all-female lineup at the Knickerbocker Theatre on Friday night. Margaret Glaspy, a witty, intelligent and sentimental songwriter from New York, headlined the concert with just her voice and a red Fender electric guitar. Opening artist Stefanie Hapaala, a local musician from our big-city backyard of Detroit, kicked off the show in a similar fashion as Glaspy, taking the stage with her vocals and a sixstring. In case you missed it, or even if you were there, here is a rundown of the evening from start to finish. Stefanie Haapala is a go-getter. Her tough-girl attitude was evident even from the stage, but her intensity was balanced out by her originals that melted you into your seat. Lyrically poignant, vivid and climactic, Stephanie knew how to use her words to woo you into her stories. “You burn me up like rosewood in a forest fire,” Haapala repeated into the microphone over her rhythmic guitar strums.
The crowd fell deeper into a trance with every repetition, and by the end of the song, the theatre was blazing. Haapala’s guitar tones were drenched in reverb, filling the Knick with notes that lingered long after their start. The resonance held Stefanie’s vocals like a tightly-knit sweater, creating a warmth, comfort and trust between the audience and performer. Haapala’s voice contained a grit and crackle to it that was used impressively, not accidentally. Even through the unique sound, her words rang clear throughout the entirety of her opening set. Margaret Glaspy’s millions of Spotify plays, an arena tour with The Lumineers and features in NPR, The New York Times and Billboard hardly touch the surface of her accomplishments and ability to command a crowd with her music. “I wrote these songs on the road, in my hotel, on the plane, and at soundcheck,” Glaspy said in her press bio about her latest EP, Born Yesterday. “They were the product of the little time that I had to myself – three songs about different sides of love: love gone wrong, love gone right, and love at a distance.” Glaspy performed songs old and new at The Knickerbocker, as well as a couple of covers, including an acapella piece.
With nearly perfect pitch accompanied by her dry electric guitar tones, Glaspy held nothing back during her hourlong performance. Her energetic facial expressions mimicked the highs and lows of each song, and her body wobbled with the beat of each tune. Glaspy’s silver bomber jacket shone in the glimmer of the stage lights, and she glowed during the entirety of her robust, dynamic and engaging set. The raw and intimate show setting of just Glaspy and her guitar allowed the intricacies of her music to shimmer through the mix, leaving listeners without a doubt of her musical brilliance. Everything about Glaspy held a humble, approachable and down-to-earth feel. She shared stories about being the youngest in her family and the music her sister played in their shared childhood bedroom during the show.
Her songwriting felt like a direct reflection of her inner world. Margaret Glaspy’s concert was like a long chat over hot coffee, and though she did not perform an encore, the listeners left wanting more of her artsy, kitschy and beautiful voice. The 2018-2019 Hope College Concert Series season launched with a strong start by Margaret Glaspy and Stefanie Haapala’s performances. Make sure to catch the rest of the series’ upcoming concerts, which include The Tallest Man on Earth on November 16, Post Animal on December 1 and The Japanese House on December 7. Tickets are available in the ticket office for the individual shows, or can be purchased online through the Hope College Concert Series Facebook page.