There were a lot of thoughts going through my mind as I watched Donna Missal perform her first headlining show in Los Angeles, California. Deeply profound questions, like: “Isn’t that the girl from Macklemore’s music video?” and “How did she get this many fans so fast (without ever releasing a solo album or EP)?” For some reason there still isn’t a Wikipedia page on record for Donna Missal, even though she is signed to a major record label. But maybe things like that add to her underground mystique as a new artist. The fact of the matter is when I stumbled across this indie-rock singer for the first time on Instagram, I was instantly intrigued. There was something raw and theatric about her photos. I felt like I was taking a retrospective gander at a young Lady Gaga, about 15 years before she became an insanely popular singer known for wearing outlandish stage gear. Ironically enough, Donna Missal’s live show at The Hi Hat took my recollection even further down memory lane. That’s because the New Jersey native had a boldness and an artistic substance about her that reminded me of some of the prominent female solo artists from the 90’s like Fionna Apple, Alanis Morissette and Tori Amos.
Donna Missal performed a 45-minute set in front of a maximum capacity crowd on Saturday night (June 23, 2018). I stood in the front row for the duration of her entire concert. As I looked around the room, I saw grown men fearlessly clutching their hearts and reciting every single lyric to a song called “Girl.” A pop-rock composition about the insecure tendencies of a jealous woman. Donna’s sex appeal was undeniable, so I was not surprised by the notion that several members of my gender seemingly had their jaws on the floor for most of the night. But what I noticed the most was how the emotional content of her music resonated with the young women in the audience. When she sang “Keep Lying,” it was as if she were speaking for every woman in the crowd who had been given the short end of the stick in the aftermath of an unhealthy relationship with a partner. That was powerful. You didn’t have to be a female to understand pain in her voice. She concluded her show with a rendition of “Torn.” An iconic pop-rock anthem released by Natalie Imbruglia in 1997. The sentiment of this heartfelt cover complemented the original material from Donna Missal’s setlist perfectly.
Although she has yet to publish a full-length solo album, Donna Missal’s music has already begun to excite a large portion of music listeners within the college-age demographic. I just hope that her raw aura doesn’t change when she is no longer indie-rock’s best-kept secret.