Laufey performs “From The Start” at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, as captured on April 23, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Arianna Santiago)
Laufey performs “From The Start” at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, as captured on April 23, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Arianna Santiago)
Arianna Santiago

IN PHOTOS: Grammy-winner Laufey “Bewitched” the sold-out Ryman crowd on her “Goddess” tour

Laufey’s birthday show in Nashville was perfect “From The Start.”

Icelandic artist Laufey “Bewitched” me during the Nashville stop of her “Goddess” tour on April 23 at the Ryman Auditorium. Celebrating her 25th birthday, Laufey delivered a show filled with surprises — including an unreleased song — a performance with her twin sister and a special appearance by Colbie Caillat.

The evening began with the English pop band Wasia Project, led by sibling duo Olivia Hardy and William Gao. They warmed up the crowd with their latest tracks “Is This What Love Is?” and “ur so pretty,” leaving me eager for the main act. Laufey later praised their music, celebrating their shared heritage. 

“They make fantastic music and I’ve wanted to tour with them because we’re all Wasian!” Laufey said.

The audience was filled with fans, many adorned with Laufey’s signature hair ribbon or birthday hats. As I prepared my camera gear for Laufey’s opening number, I noticed a fan in the seat in front of me holding a folded-up sign. She had traveled into Nashville from Clarksville with her Nana and was happy to let me snap a photo of her with her art. Unfortunately, no sooner had I snapped the photo before a security guard tucked the sign away for her to pick up after the concert. She assured me that it was okay — “just getting tickets to see Laufey live is good enough!” 

Laufey took the stage with her band, launching into “Falling Behind,” a bossa nova tune that showcased her Ella Fitzgerald-esque vocals. The Ryman, a venue steeped in musical history, resonated with her signature hummed riffs in “Beautiful Stranger,” creating a communal atmosphere as the audience softly sang along.

Laufey delivered piano versions of “Promise” and “Love Like The Movies” from a baselit dais. A string quartet joined her for “California and Me” and “Let You Break My Heart Again,” both originally recorded with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Bright lights and strobes enhanced the mood during her rolling piano chords of “Nocturne (Interlude)” and powerful vocals on  “Goddess,” her newest release and the titular track of the tour.

A highlight of the evening was when Laufey introduced Colbie Caillat, leading to a heartfelt duet of “Bubbly.” Following this, Laufey performed “Fragile” and “Bored,” an unreleased song about unfulfilling situationships, adding humor and relatability to her set.

“Have you ever been in a relationship? I’m guessing not if you’re at a Laufey concert!” Laufey stated. The lyrics humorously captured the feeling of talking to a narcissist: “Maybe you’re just way too plain to be interesting/Baby keep talking but nobody’s listening.”

Surprises continued as the crew presented Laufey and her twin sister Junia with birthday hats and cupcakes while the audience sang “Happy Birthday.” Junia joined Laufey for a violin solo during “From The Start,” adding a familial touch to the celebration.

The encore featured “Letter To My 13 Year Old Self,” a deeply personal song for the artist.  “This is a list of all the traits that made me feel different, but I know they are the reasons that I’m so successful today,” said Laufey. The audience expressed their support when Laufey tweaked a line to reference her Grammy win with “Bewitched” earlier this year.

Laufey concluded with “Tennessee Waltz,” expressing her love for country music and fulfilling her dream of playing at the Ryman. As a graduating senior covering my last concert for The Hustler, capturing Laufey’s enchanting performance was a fitting and unforgettable finale.

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About the Contributor
Arianna Santiago
Arianna Santiago, Senior Staff Photographer
Arianna Santiago ('24) is from Bremerton, Wash., and studying electrical and computer engineering in the School of Engineering. When not shooting for The Hustler or for freelance work, Arianna can be found leading campus tours, organizing events for University Catholic, attempting to study and procrastinating her lab reports. You can reach her at [email protected].
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