Students and community members slowly trickled into Coffee Grounds last Thursday night to hear the music of Olive Tiger and Liz de Lise. The shop was filled not only with a warmth that pushed its way in from the humid September evening, but a more figurative warmth that emanated from the many people perched on tables and couches around the room. The lights were dim, the coffee plentiful, and the whole room was washed in a subtle softness.
When Olive Tiger, a musician based in greater New Haven and Brooklyn, picked up her guitar, a hush fell over the space. She spoke a quiet greeting into the microphone.
“It’s so nice to be here with my instruments, in this place, with these people.”
And then she began. She played a gentle tune, her fingers moving expertly over the strings, her voice swinging up to reach pitches and then tunneling its way down to the lower notes. The song rose in intensity, crested, then fell back again into an unmatchable tenderness. The silence after her final note quickly melted into loud applause.
About halfway through her set, Olive traded in a guitar for a cello and began to experiment with pedals, developing a loop underneath the melody. She created a pulse, a river that flowed beneath her voice and carried it in all directions. The audience was mesmerized—many people stood with their eyes closed while others used the open space to dance, exploring the music through movement.
Olive Tiger’s set ended with enthusiastic applause, and Liz de Lise, a Conn alum now based in Philly, moved to the front of the room. She introduced herself and then jumped quickly into the music, her voice a perfect mixture of tough and sweet, her songs gentle and biting at once.
Liz’s creations were nothing if not powerful. The instruments shook the room, filling what was empty, and the audience could not help but sway, snap, and smile at one another. There was a sense of everything and everyone coming together—grasping this art for a moment and then passing it on. One of Liz’s last songs was “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys, a song about love and gratitude, fit for the occasion.
Both artists have recently released new music. Olive Tiger’s latest album, “Until My Body Breaks,” was released on August 19th, and Liz de Lise’s new album, “Liz de Lise,” came out on September 9th. These albums are beautiful, moving, and more than worth a listen.
This wonderful show kicked off the Friday Night Live series that will be taking place at Conn this semester. Every Friday, a space on campus will be filled with song, dance, food, and good company. •