For Her Concert Film “In the Air,” Aerial East Provides Solace

Watch the NY-based songwriter perform tracks from her debut album Try Harder and a rendition of Kate Bush's “Running Up That Hill.”

Aerial East‘s debut album Try Harder was made to soothe the nerves, even if the world is crumbling around you. Growing up in a military family familiar with constant movement, her music is the opposite: typically still, grounding us in her narrative spells. Now she’s brought Try Harder to life with an intimate concert filmed over the course of one day at Brooklyn’s Pioneer Works.

The Joey Frank–directed film, which was produced by Arcade Fire’s creative director Julia Simpson with cinematography done by Sean Price Williams, captures all phases of the sun. Across her performance, we learn the contours of East’s face in dappled sun and twilight shadows. It’s a delicate atmosphere that captures the soaring vocal-centered works of the New York–based musician. Later, in the stillness of the night as lights flicker around her, Aerial East performs an arresting reinvention of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.” The concert finishes with a dreamy explosion of special effects as East plays her album’s closer “Be Leavin.”

Aerial East explains how this was her remedy for not being able to perform live shows during the pandemic. “This was made in a very specific time when there couldn’t be a live audience. I was bummed about not playing live concerts and I still am. But this was our response,” she says.

“We struggled with how to make something in winter with the COVID constraints and we ended up wanting to do something that felt very immediate and live, but also played with the freedom of filmmaking. This is nine songs performed over the course of a whole day. All audio is live, and in between songs we would break down and do a new set up. We wanted all of the songs to be different in their own ways but connected through the changing of the light throughout the day. It was really fun to perform the songs with a band and I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to do it again IRL.”

Watch the film below.

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