Words and Photos by Brian Mecinas
To be pulled into another world entirely, plunged into the lived experiences and sonic
dreamscapes of another person, is one of the most fulfilling joys of live music.
Clearly, Allie Crow Buckley knows this and has mastered the art of vivid imagery within her
distinct sound, luring a packed crowd at Tempe’s Marquee Theatre into a surreal journey
through a short sample of her discography.
Supporting Declan McKenna on the final leg of his North American tour, Buckley has spent the
better part of this year performing songs off of her latest 2023 LP, Utopian Fantasy, live for the
first time ever. Comparatively, the duo have quite distinct sounds that would lead one to think
that capturing the attention of McKenna’s predominantly Gen-Z audience would be a challenge.
Yet, Buckley exceeded all expectations as she created a lush forest of sound within the venue
that was undeniably divine. It was a flourishing patch of life within the monotone Arizona desert
landscape. Looking deeper, it is no surprise that Buckley resonates with a different side of the
youthful audience’s taste.
Allie Crow Buckley’s music is the elegant union of an ethereal production style reminiscent of
Weyes Blood to a soulful, yet restrained vocal tone that almost brings powerhouses like Adele to
mind. Her signature sound could also be likened to a not-so-distant sister of Ethel Cain’s, albeit
with much lighter, auroral, and mythical themes.
With songs like “As I Walk Into the Sea”, off of Buckley’s 2019 debut EP So Romantic, the crowd
could be seen swaying back and forth instinctively. The track’s first verse opens up with a
solemn “I can’t make it on my own / But I just want to be alone”, earning immediate nods from a
captivated audience. Many of her lyrics are deeply heartfelt, but simple and restrained, which is
further reflected in the live performance that Buckley gives.
Other songs off the set, like “Dreamboat Soulmate”, show the growth in her poetic writing in
lines like “I’ve been laying petals at your feet / Worshipping at the altar you built for me.” While I
had the fortune of listening to much of Buckley’s discography prior to the show, her graceful yet
enthralling stage presence had me wishing that my first time listening to the song could have
been live at the show.
By the time the set had come to a close, I was left longing for more. As an opener, Buckley did
an incredible job setting the stage for McKenna’s performance later in the evening. Her set was
like the push and pull of the ocean’s tide, Buckley being the moon behind it all. With each song
on her set, she gradually washed away the worries, thoughts, and troubles of the crowd,
allowing them to move on through the night with the ability to enjoy the music to its fullest
potential. Allie Crow Buckley is an artist to watch in the coming years, her prowess at weaving
entire worlds out of the threads of her sound are unparalleled. It is safe to say that I cannot wait
to see what worlds she creates on her next project.