By Thomas Gillen
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Pop and folk music collided in a spectacular performance by upcoming singer, songwriter, and New York-native, Annika Bennett. In a one-room restaurant in Queens called Swing the Teapot, 19-year-old Bennett played 23 songs to a small crowd over the course of a two-hour concert on Oct. 30.
The restaurant quickly filled up with audience members a half-hour before the concert, and soon enough, nearly every chair was filled. Bennett had a personal connection to the audience, as some of her family and friends were in attendance. While playing in front of family may add pressure to an artist while performing, Bennett showed no sign of stress, as she was extremely confident on stage.
One of Bennett’s qualities that immediately stood out was her personality. Between each song, Bennett talked to the crowd by describing her inspiration for the song or telling them where she wrote it. These quick interactions established a relationship between her and the audience, and made everyone feel like they were having a one-on-one conversation with her.
After playing the first song, called “Chore,” Bennett revealed that she lived in Nashville for the summer and co-wrote several new songs with other musicians. Her time in Nashville seemed to leave an impact on her music, as several songs contained a hint of country besides her folk and pop roots.
By building this rapport with the crowd, Bennett allowed her humorous side to reveal itself on several occasions. Before she played “Fire with Fire,” Bennett said that she co-wrote the song with two men in their fifties who were inspired to write parts of the song from past fights with their wives. This resulted in an eruption of laughter from the crowd, as Bennett reassured everyone that this was not the case with her— she’s never had a wife.
Besides writing or co-writing all of her songs, Bennett also plays an acoustic guitar to accompany her vocals. The concert was a mix of Bennett’s old and new songs, where “Cali- fornia” and “A Million Things” are off of her al- bum Seventeen. Others, like “L.A. Time,” were so new that she was still deciding on what to name them. Bennett’s style is a mix of pop and folk music. Despite the differing genres, Bennett made it work wonderfully, and switched between the two or blended them together in a single song.
One of the more effective songs played during the evening was called “I Lost My Heart,” which Bennett wrote before moving to Nashville. This song was very moving to the audience, as several dried their eyes after it was over. With “I Lost My Heart,” Bennett painted a perfect picture of the feelings one gets walking through New York City, and how hard it is to leave it behind.
Another popular song included “Tryna Fall in Love.” Bennett’s pop lyrics and vocals echoed shades of singer Colbie Caillat and created a very catchy and upbeat song. Several other standouts included “A Million Things,” “Eclipse,” and “Marlboro Lane.”
After leaving the stage for the last time, Bennett was persuaded to step back up and play one more song, a cover of the Jackson 5 hit, “I Want You Back.” Her performance in this song was also very impressive for the young artist. She stayed true to the original roots of the song and made it unique to her own style, allowing it to fit in easily with the rest of her repertoire.
While the crowd would clap for Bennett after every song, she received the biggest ovation at the end of the concert. In the hands of other artists, playing 23 songs may have dragged out the concert but Bennett found a way to make each one memorable and kept the crowd thoroughly engaged throughout the duration of the performance.
If this concert was any indication, Annika Bennett has a long career ahead of her and the music industry should prepare itself for the next breakout star on the folk and pop scene.