Amongst the challenge of playing a show during a global pandemic, Israel’s Noga Erez made it to the end of the road on her first U.S. tour at the second to the last show of tour in Portland. Read Bren Swogger’s full review, along with photos from the set, below.

Though Noga Erez may be huge in Israel, she’s not as known to many in the United States. This could be one reason why her show at the Aladdin Theater in Portland on November 6th wasn’t sold out. As doors opened to the venue, only a few people stood in line, making their way inside, grabbing drinks, and finding seats in the venue’s auditorium.

Nobody rushed to the stage for a front row spot. Everyone seemed to be here to socialize, and to have a nice, relaxing evening with a drink and live music. But for anyone familiar with Noga Erez’s bombastic brand of politically-charged electro-pop–let alone her thunderous stage-presence–a chill, seated evening didn’t seem like the vibe she would seek to bring.

Though the seats began to fill more and more as the show’s start ticked closer, there was still too much space. I worried that the crowd wouldn’t budge. I wanted to get up, press against the stage, and scream along to every word. I didn’t want to stay seated. I refused.

My fears melted as soon as the night’s opener, Richmond, Virginia’s McKinley Dixon, took the stage. Almost immediately, the space in the auditorium was shrunk down. Nearly everyone got up from their seats and pooled at the front of the stage, crowding together as Dixon played through a mesmerizing and poetic set of hip-hop soul. 

Even though the show wasn’t sold out, as soon as Noga Erez took to the stage, with everyone crowded together, the energy of a sold out show took over the space immediately. But with the crowd packed together like sardines, that feeling of intimacy amongst strangers was also a bit nerve wracking, given the circumstances of the past two years.

“What are you all doing?” Erez joked with the crowd after the set’s first song. “You had assigned seats. You should all be sitting your butts down! Don’t you know this is how COVID spreads?”

Without the proper safety precautions, this kind of crowd would certainly be a hot-bed of virus spread. But luckily, Noga Erez’s tour had–to this point–gone off without a hitch. As the second to the last date of her very first U.S. tour, Erez expressed her joy and gratitude that she had been able to pull it off.

“I am so incredibly happy we made it to this point. I thought for sure we would have all gotten COVID by now,” Erez told the crowd. “It’s been a challenge to make this happen. And it took so many people working so hard to do it.”

Massive arenas and sprawling crowds certainly bring their own beauty to the world of live music, but there’s nothing quite like the intimacy of a small venue. As Noga Erez stormed across the stage, aided by the massive pop production of bandmate and album producer ROUSSO, the energy in the room absolutely exploded. Hands reached toward the stage, bathed in strobes as the crowd joined voices with Erez on every track. 

Though COVID had long prevented these moments, with the help of her team and the venues she played along the way, Erez was able to make it to the end of the road of her first tour in the United States. And the crowd at Aladdin Theater–masked up and fully vaccinated-was able to once again experience those intimate moments where the magic of live music is truly at its strongest.

View more photos from the show in our gallery below, and eep an eye to Indie/Alt and for any news on future U.S. and Portland tour dates.

Editor / Founder | + posts

Bren Swogger (they/them) is the creator and editor of Indie/Alt Magazine. Bren started Indie/Alt as a music blog during their sophomore year of high school, and after a long hiatus, relaunched it as an online entertainment magazine in 2021 for their capstone project at Pacific University. After 10 years in the music journalism industry, Bren has a long-standing passion for live music, but also loves to explore their passion for other artistic outlets. You can find Bren writing voraciously, adding to their never-ending stack of TBRs, and marathoning classic horror films.