As the inevitable cycle of seasons changing sees summer turn to fall, it’s fitting that gothic synth outfit Zola Jesus descended upon the Regent Theater in Los Angeles. Returning to L.A. for the first time since decamping to Wisconsin to record Okovi, the group’s 5th LP (4th for the eclectic Sacred Bones record label), the atmosphere was ripe for a memorable performance along the lines of a cathartic-yet-equally rave-y seance from the hypnagogic synthpop-adjacent group. The crowd, hoping to get among the first glances of the new songs off Okovi, buzzed with anticipation amid the hazy, dimmed Regent Theater spotlights shortly before Zola Jesus took the stage.
They would not be disappointed as the set leaned heavily off of material from Okovi and 2014’s Taiga, including my favorite new song of theirs, “Soak.” Nika Roza Danilova even took a brief respite before delving into “Witness” to explain the heartbreaking origin of the track: An important figure in the Zola Jesus frontwoman’s life had attempted suicide, and the song captured her feelings of desperation in the moment. Danilova herself was dealing with a challenge that night, doing her best to perform for the fans while dealing with a sinus-related malady. I honestly couldn’t tell, as Danilova held total command of the stage while her voice echoed as far as to reach the rafters of the Regent Theater, as powerful and resonant as ever.
Make sure to catch Zola Jesus live by clicking on the tour dates below, and you can click [this link] to buy Okovi.