Photos and words by Ryan Mackley, edited by Joe Bisciotti

Spiritual intensity rang through Lido Berlin thanks to serpentwithfeet and his supporting act Kelsey Lu.

She opened with her recent single “Shades of Blue,” commanding the hall with the clarity and resonance of her voice. A mix of tracks, guitar, and a loop pedal assisted her in gaining the attention of every member of the audience.

Her butterfly hair clips reflected blue and pink light and were perhaps the most elaborate part of her performance. This is not to say her performance was not spectacular.

Her performance was complex, poignant, powerful, and both heart-breaking and warming.

After playing her favorite song, “Liar,” she shared a few words of gratitude for having performed two nights in a row in Berlin (the night before she opened for Blood Orange) and left the stage.

serpentwithfeet arrived on stage with almost no warning and patiently waited for the crowd to gather round.

Throughout the evening, he bounced between his MacBook, center stage, and a keyboard, using each so effectively it felt as though he was communicating directly to me.

He shared his music and his thoughts on Ariana Grande’s “Next,” read a passage from In the Life: A Black Gay Anthology, launched into improvisational serenades at the keyboard and prompted us for multiple singalongs.

BEACON is tattooed across his neck and although it wasn’t as striking as his floral, sequin jacket, or his actual voice (damn, those vocal runs?!), it stood as a theme for the evening.

Is it a beacon for joy, or love, or truth? Probably all three.
It never felt as if he was simply there to perform his album Soil.
He wanted to experience with us love, frustration, laughter, and a truth.
A truth that legitimized our experiences that night, as I hope it does his own.