The Thrills Came Cheap at Sia's Boston Calling Performance

Australian pop titan Sia has labored tirelessly against her own fame. Her performance at this year’s Boston Calling didn’t just hint at her attitude, it was an elaborate construction around a simple message: don’t look at me. A performer, especially a pop performer, who isn’t comfortable with attention is very novel. For contrast consider stars like Sufjan Stevens (who performed the same night), basking in spectacles such as the 25-minute “Impossible Soul” which incorporated wacky waving inflatable tube men and foil-draped ladders. Sufjan wants everything, the pageantry, the music, and the responsibility for it all to return back to him. Sia, in her anti-fame push, has done all but remove herself from the stage.

Sia’s show at Boston Calling was a recreation, in sound and style, of a SiaVEVO video. While the artistic content is interesting, she takes no advantage of the live setting. To her credit she really got me thinking about the purpose of live music, but the conclusion was that it can be done so much better. The fact that I enjoy Sia’s songwriting didn’t really matter, because for the entire set she stood back and to the left and sang exact replicas of songs I’ve heard in every restaurant and department store for three years. What impressed me was how she stood stock still while hitting some startling high notes, and the skill it took her actors and dancers to mimic the videos playing on massive screens beside the stage. Make no mistake, Sia is doing something very interesting with pop, but the when performed the concept is shallow and comes across lazy.