When People Eating People performs live, Nouela Johnston (the woman behind the band) pounds the shit out of her keyboard. Banging away at the lowest keys--creating these deep, heavy rhythms on songs like "All the Hospitals" and "I Hate All My Friends"-- and singing in her sweet but angry voice, Johnston seems completely confident. She's clearly talented and artistically smart: her live band doesn't even have a guitar player, relying instead on bass and drums to compliment her keys, which are always front and center. Throw in those semi-growling vocals, and Nouela Johnston seems like she's totally sure of herself in every way.
But there was one song during her Sky Church performance that truly demonstrated how raw and deep Johnston's emotions run, and it spoke to the insecurity she might feel. She sent her band off stage when she performed "For Now," playing the ragtime-influenced song alone on her keyboard (the same way it appears on her self-titled album. The first few lyrics--"None ever is gonna know that/ everything that I do/ is solely to impress you"--hinted insecurity and self doubt. It's a theme in many of People Eating People's songs, but it was laid bare when Johnston belted out "One day/ I'll make/ I'll make you love me" to a crowded room of fans. For Johnston to let those insecurities be seen, especially as a young female musician, well, that's beyond confident; it's fucking fearless. And it's why her songs are so powerful.