BY SOPHIE MUELLER
The energy in the crowd was electric. The excitement tangible, bouncing off of one another as we all awaited Sylvan Esso, a band that has left their mark with the release of their sophomore album, What Now.
In the anticipation of Sylvan Esso’s arrival onstage, there was a buzz in the audience as friends waved across the theater balcony to one another, creating a friendly and intimate atmosphere in a theater that sat about thirteen hundred people.
Once Sylvan Esso, a duo comprised of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn, came onstage, the audience truly came to life. Meath appeared in a black sequined leotard and Sanborn a t-shirt and jeans. Claiming their individual space on stage as Meath stayed put on stage right and Sanborn on stage left, they built off of one another’s energy. At times the lighting would dim, emphasizing the silhouettes of the duo from opposite sides of the stage and played off of different rhythms, beats, and melodies in each song. At the conclusion of each track, the psychedelic lights would black out, leaving everyone in complete and utter darkness while also giving us some time to process the greatness on stage.
Amelia’s dance moves won the night as she threw in fist pumps and kicked the air each time the bass dropped. She controlled the crowd with her powerful and sharp voice that commanded one’s attention.
One of the standouts of the night was “PARAD(w/m)E.” As soon as the first beat started, everyone in the audience was moving and grooving with a purpose. “Die Young,” and “H.S.K.T.” initiated a massive dance revolution as heads banged, people clapped, and we all awkwardly danced and swayed. During “Coffee,” the repetition of the lyrics swelled as the song built momentum, leading to overwhelming sing along of the chorus. The band began their most well-known song “Hey Mami,” a-capella, causing the entire crowd to be on the edge of their seats with curiosity and anticipation. The performance ultimately lead to everyone in the venue singing the quip “sooner or later the dudes at bodegas will hold their lips and own their shit”, the signature lyric from the song. Sylvan Esso closed out the night with “Radio,” an anthem dedicated to all the haters and sell-outs in the music industry. Again, a major dance party commenced as lights flashed, music bounced off the walls and Sylvan Esso carried us all into euphoric happiness.
The real treat was when they came back onstage and performed a three song encore which included a beautiful rendition of “Slackjaw,” the first slow song of the night and ended up being one of my favorites of the night. Light synths and beats were utilized while their friend from the opening band, Collections of Colonies of Bees, played the guitar. The combination of sounds with Meath’s simple vocals allowed me to fully take in the beauty and complexity of the song and all the emotions it portrays as Meath sang “I got all the parts I wished for. I got everything I need. Sometimes I’m above water. But mostly I’m at sea.”
Nick Sanborn once said that “ideally a show is a collection of people who felt a certain way in the intimacy of their own home and they arrive at a venue packed with thousands of people and had this beautiful realization that all these other people know this feeling that was theirs and that is a beautiful thing to watch.” Sanborn’s quote feels especially pertinent for me, as I attended their concert solo; starting the night extremely self-conscious in regards to being a party of one. By the end of the night I was smiling, singing along to the words at the top of my lungs, and awkwardly dancing the night away with the friendly people sitting next to me. There was a communal spirit at this concert, and a solidarity in “feeling your feelings” as Amelia Meath said at the beginning of the night.
Sylvan Esso is an ingenuitive band that creates music and creates a mood that dissipates to everyone else. The vocals of Meath and the beats from Sanborn appear as an unlikely duo, but together, their creativity makes magic. It is easy to say that after that concert Sylvan Esso is here to stay, start a dance revolution, and maybe save the world.