Concert Review: Sylvan Esso, tUnE-yArDs, June 13, 9:30 Club


Sylvan Esso is the cure.

Though those words are tUnE-yArDs’, I can only agree as I listen to Sylvan Esso at the office Monday morning as a type of self-soothing mechanism to cope with the passing of the weekend. The electro-pop duo of Amelia Meath & Nick Sanborn are hypnotic, soothing, and sleek. The group delivers its highly synthesized sound in all its integrity live, though the performance is a bit understated – almost unassuming when compared to other, more ostentatious singer-and-producer-acts. Overall, I super enjoyed the opener, and it’s obvious tUnE-yArDs appreciates the two as an up and coming act worth investing in.

tUnE-yArDs, aka Merrill Garbus, for her part, is anything but understated. Even if you weren’t already aware of Garbus’ penchant for face paint, crazy costumes, and out-of-this-world hair styles, you may have gotten an inkling from the crowd anxiously anticipating her appearance at the 9:30 Club. Balloon hats were a must-have, face paint was abundant, and clown suits were common. While Garbus has recently taken some criticism for her experimentation in mainstream pop sound, I thought she (and her awesome back up dancers and band) pulled the effort off well. Her new songs are, admittedly, more repetitive and cohesive than some of the CRAZY sounds heard on her original album, but I would never label them as boring or generic. “Hey Life” on Nikki Nack really rocked my socks. Unlike Sylvan Esso, whose challenge, in my opinion, is matching their live renditions to their impeccably sleek recorded tracks, tUnE-yArDs presents the opposite scenario: her charisma and unforgettable persona often make her live renditions more enjoyable than recorded. But, again, relistening on Monday morning, I’m rocking just as hard to “Hey Life” on Spotify as I was at the 9:30 Club. Of course, at the end of the day, “Gangsta” is still my favorite track.

Overall, two great acts, off the beaten path, definitely worth a listen. And a look if they’re live in your town.

Posted on by halley in Concerts

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