Fitting in has never been much of a priority for local antifolk musician Willis Earl Beal, and that’s caused him a fair amount of trouble. The resulting frustration informs an outsider stance that runs through many of his songs, which cover everything from alienation to loneliness. Those feelings were also part of what drove him to make flyers seeking friends, one of which I found at Myopic Books last winter. I was immediately captivated by Beal and his music, and more people felt the same way after my B Side cover story came out in July. Some of them work for new XL Recordings imprint Hot Charity, and Beal recently signed with the label, which will release his formal debut, Acousmatic Sorcery, in March.
On Saturday night Beal hit the stage at Schubas as part of Tomorrow Never Knows, and Beal made it clear that his first performance since the signing was a grand achievement for him, even before he played a note. “Just keep that fire burning and the universe will do the rest for you,” he said after recounting his five-year history as an aspiring musician.