Stella Donnelly headlines This Week’s Must-See Acts

Oliver Smith on Friday at Halcyon, Heilung on Saturday at Regency Ballroom and Stella Donnelly on Tuesday at Swedish American Hall.


Oliver Smith 

10 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, at Halcyon. $10;

Proclaimed by Mixmag as “the best thing to happen in trance,” Oliver Smith’s dense and emotional dance-epics have earned the producer universal praise throughout the international trance community. Formerly one-half of electronic duo Smith & Pledger, the skilled DJ and producer has been releasing music since 2003, and has since become a staple with Above & Beyond’s Anjunabeats label, regularly releasing new music and hosting the Anjunabeats Worldwide radio show. The 2018 compilation Anjunabeats Worldwide 08, which boasts 10 of Smith’s own tracks, was mixed by Smith himself and reached number one on Apple Music dance charts around the world, proving to be one of the producer’s most prominent appearances to date. Highlight single “Foundation” shines as the compilation’s sweeping climax,  showcasing Smith’s sense of patience as the pulsating track builds its intensity.

Courtesy of Artist

Folk metal


7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, at Regency Ballroom. $39.50;

Combining primal ferocity with elements of metal’s darkest trenches, Heilung is a cryptic yet powerful new force within the genre whose brooding and ritualistic sound has left metalheads equally mystified and amazed. Founded in 2014, the experimental trio is composed of German singer Kai Uwe Faust, Danish multi-instrumentalist Christopher Juul, and Norwegian singer Maria Franz, and have used bones and Viking artifacts as instruments in their musical interpretations of ancient texts and ceremonies. The band’s 2015 debut album Ofnir introduces listeners to the trio’s talent for crafting ominous yet sprawling atmospheres, referring to their idiosyncratic sound as “amplified history.” The trio’s career-defining moment came in 2017 when they mesmerized thousands during the Netherlands’ Castlefest with an otherworldly, ritualistic performance. While Heilung does not strive to provide a reenactment of ancient ceremonies, they excel at creating an identity that taps into a similarly prehistoric, spellbinding energy.

Photo by Molly Matalon

Indie rock

Stella Donnelly 

7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14, at Swedish American Hall. $20;

Carrying an unapologetic attitude while deconstructing and criticizing misogyny and racism, Stella Donnelly is a “self-proclaimed shit-stirrer” whose clever and articulate songwriting is matched with a refreshing sense of wit. The Welsh-Australian singer-songwriter played in other bands around Perth before releasing her breakout 2017 debut EP Thrush Metal, a heartfelt introduction to Donnelly’s moving lyricism that is bold yet personal. Standout track “Boy Will Be Boys” is a poignant recounting of a close friend’s rape that bluntly examines society’s treatment of sexual assault survivors and victim-blaming, as the song earned universal critical praise. Donnelly would then spend the next year touring nonstop and preparing her debut album, Beware of the Dogs, which would see its release in March 2019. The critically-acclaimed album hears an impassioned Donnelly vehemently dissect sociopolitical issues within Australia and around the world with a keen sense of humor that makes the album feel liberating and powerful.

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