Home Live Review Live Review: Torres @ The Atlantis — 1/24/24

Live Review: Torres @ The Atlantis — 1/24/24

Live Review: Torres @ The Atlantis — 1/24/24
Torres performs at The Atlantis on Jan. 24, 2024. (Photo by David LaMason)

On the eve of Torres’s sixth full-length album, What an Enormous Room, Mackenzie Scott and her band hit the stage at The Atlantis in DC. With a set that pulled heavily from the new record, Torres put on a moving set that had me heading straight home afterwards to listen to the few singles that had been released up till that point. 

Torres, the musical vehicle for singer-songwriter Scott, has taken a twisty path over the past decade.  Her first album, the self-titled Torres, was independently released in 2003, and after three records Scott thought of stopping music altogether before 2020’s Silver Tongue.  And then, of course, there was the Covid pandemic. On her new album, the just released What an Enormous Room, Scott sings on “Artificial Limbs”, “If you’re here it means you’ve survived your own death sentence / So rest in pleasure now” and later, more directly, “I’m not sayin’ I’ve let my darkness go / But It’s like I’m learning to float.” It’s a theme that seems to glide through Torres’ sixth full length album. There’s a feeling of coming through at the other end of a harrowing gauntlet, or maybe finding a sense of acceptance. 

The album unfolds like a book, the rocking start of “Happy man’s shoes” and “Life as we don’t know it” to the beautifully sparse piano/ambience/voice of “Songbird forever” that caps the 10-song collection is one that I immediately found myself listening to over again.  In these busy days I find it harder to listen to a record through once, let alone twice in one sitting, but this one demanded more than one spin if nothing else than to hear that closing number again. 

I had been anticipating the new record and subsequent tour, and I had heard some of the new record through Torres’ Patreon page, so I was eager to hear the new songs live. 

Although doors opened early, The Atlantis filled up quickly on Jan. 24. I wasn’t aware of opener, Aisha Burns, but her set was incredibly moving. A mix of echoing guitar and violin, Burns voice was cutting. A cover of Chris Issak’s “Wicked Game” felt right at home in this all too short set.

Torres hit the stage and went into the aforementioned, “Happy man’s shoes” and slow groove number, “Skim” from Three Futures. There’s part of a Torres show where you can see the music take over, like a possession, and Scott becomes like a vehicle moving to the sounds she and her band are creating.

It really is like a kind of magic Torres creates, and new songs like “Wake to flowers” have this moving (both physically like you are on one of those airport moving walkways and emotionally) quality. Have you’ve ever been listening to a song and it’s a little jarring when it ends. A lot of the newer songs performed had that sense — so easy to be lost in the words and the music.

“I know it’s hard to have hope, I know it’s hard to have faith in literally anything right now,” Scott told the crowd. “The world is completely fucked BUT it’s also not fucked. It’s not totally fucked.” She continued introducing the song, “Jerk into joy,” “this is a song about clawing your way out of hopelessness… jerk into joy.” From the spoken “what an enormous room / look at all the dancing I can do” to the refrain, the song really is a mediation on not giving up.

Watch the official music video for “Wake to flowers” by Torres on YouTube:

Although most of the numbers Wednesday night were from What an Enormous Room, there were several from Three Futures, including the title track which Scott said was “about letting somebody down when you know that’s you’re doing it and you don’t quite warn them.”

Torres ended the regular set with the intense “Helen in the Woods,” but it was as the band left the stage and Mackenzie Scott returned solo for the encore of “Gracious Day” that seemed to carry through the night.

Torres continues her tour of What an Enormous Room and it’s one not to miss, and I expect the record to find its way onto several “Best Of” lists.

The set list included:

Happy Man’s Shoes
Forever Home
Jerk Into Joy
Three Futures
I Got the Fear
Don’t Go Puttin Wishes in My Head
Wake to Flowers
Marble Focus
Artificial Limits
Helen in the Woods

Gracious Day

Here are more photos of Torres performing at The Atlantis on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.

And here are photos of Aisha Burns opening for Torres at The Atlantis.


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