With a dreamy half-hour set, Valerie Teicher, also known by her stage name Tei Shi (pronounced Tay-She), opened the stage Monday night at The Fillmore for British electropop band Years and Years. Tei Shi sent eerie resonating pulses through the sold-out hall with “Can’t Be Sure,” and looped her voice in and out like a ghostly dream with deadened beats, quickly fading the energy of the room into a palpable uncertainty, and leaving in its wake a crowd that couldn’t be sure what place the Brooklyn-based trio’s meditative dissonance and hazy swaying had at an indie pop concert.
It was shoegaze at its most alienating and raw form: detached. The performance was an inspired art piece; an experience that left the audience curious patrons. The stage was too big; the act, too small; and the distance between Tei Shi and the crowd, too wide. Then she grew.
Unfazed, Tei Shi continued into “Nevermind the End” with the same looping vocals, but this time with a more accessible upbeat, and an invitation. Her voice enchantingly pleaded, “Take me away from here/ Somewhere we can disappear.” The crowd engaged, and at one point shouted, “Tei Shi, you’re hot,” to which she responded “You’re hot too.”
A mid-set rendition of Beyoncé’s “No Angel” released Teicher’s range — sending up rolling waves of blended harmonies and echoing back in a way that reimagined the vocal instrument as a stand alone device, an agent of sound. This glance into Tei Shi’s raw talent validated her self-categorization as ‘mermaid music’ in that her sound defies standard categorization.
She rounded out the set with her hit single “Bassically,” and was joined on stage by Olly Alexander, lead singer of Years and Years. The strong drop and reaching vocals were an incredible match for the duo, who made a reappearance just a few songs later when Alexander, joined by Tei Shi, dropped into a high energy cover of Sean Paul’s “Breathe” in one of the best performances of the night.
Tei Shi ended the tour with Years and Years September 30th in Los Angeles. This stint comes on the heals of Tei Shi’s collaborations with R&B act Shy Girls as well as with indie rock band, Glass Animals. Stay tuned for more.
Article and Photos by Emilie Dylewski