Ezra Furman and Grace Cummings: A Night of Queer Magic


Image via Hazel Smith

Hazel Smith, Writer

Ezra Furman has been one of my favorite artists for many years, and what an experience it was to see her live! She put on an incredible show and warmed many hearts throughout the night. The show was at Wonder Ballroom, a smaller and more intimate venue in Portland. 

The opener, Grace Cummings, put on a beautiful performance full of emotion and soul. She sang many of the songs from her most recent album, Storm Queen, which came out in January. Her voice was raw and different from anything I had ever heard before. She spoke about growing up in Australia, and a traumatic natural disaster she experienced. After her guitar string broke, she performed an emotional and heartfelt cover of The White Stripes’ “I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet)” on the piano. Her set also included “Heaven,” “The Look You Gave,” and “Always New Days Always.” 

Ezra Furman also put on an emotional performance. As her music generally falls into the punk rock category, she sang with raw anger in her voice. She talked about her anger and emotions about the world we live in, and about the injustice, she and so many others have experienced. As a transgender woman, she sings about her experiences with gender and identity with a powerful voice. Ezra opened with the song “Can I Sleep In Your Brain” from her 2015 album Perpetual Motion People. This song is about her struggles with mental health, and feeling like her brain is not a safe place. Opening with this song started off the show in a dark place, but the show progressed towards a more hopeful note as the night went on. She sang a song from her most recent album called “Trauma,” which describes our nation’s struggles to acknowledge and work through our trauma and what causes this trauma. She played many other great songs, but my personal favorite was an unreleased song called “Lilac and Black,” which is about solidarity within the transgender community. It was heartfelt and beautiful, and there were many tears in the crowd during it. I would describe the whole night as one of community. It was a smaller venue, which made the show much more intimate. Although I only talked to several people in the crowd, I felt connected with the group as a whole. This concert reminded me of the reason that I love going to shows and finding community with people who share a common interest with you. It’s a truly beautiful experience, and I am always rejuvenated after a concert. However, this concert impacted me especially. 

Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have struggled most of my life with finding people to relate to, especially growing up in a small town. Visiting Portland and attending events like this always reminds me how truly powerful finding community is, and how beautiful it can be to join together because of a common thing we all share. Ezra Furman and Grace Cummings orchestrated a truly magical space to feel empowered in being queer. I have found myself inspired to seek out, and perhaps create, more spaces such as these.