Monday, August 28, 2017

Sylvan Esso play The Bay!

Sylvan Esso What Now album cover art

While everyone was excited to get closer to totality with the total solar eclipse last Monday, I was more excited about seeing Sylvan Esso at the Lagunitas Brewery that night! 
(it was way too foggy to see the eclipse here anyway).

I caught their set at the 10th Annual and what was the last Treasure Island Music Festival (on the Island) last October. It was cold, foggy, windy and raining but amidst the down-pour, Sylvan Esso delivered a great set for fans braving the elements in the mud. Dancing to new songs off their then up-coming new album, What Now was fun but now I was looking forward being dry and dancing to new favorites. 

Traffic to Petaluma wasn't too bad, arriving in time to enjoy some evening sunshine, tacos and my favorite Lagunitas IPA, Lil' Sumpin' before the music started. The atmosphere was buzzing as people filled the little grassy knoll and milled around the small outdoor amphitheater behind the brewery. 

Detached from Wye Oak, Jenn Wasner opened the show under her solo project, Flock of Dimes at 6:00. She said it was like we were all in her bedroom watching her as played tracks off her forthcoming album, If You See Me, Say Yes (out September 23rd). Powerful vocals layered with synths and heavy hooks impressively filled the evening air. Her experimental electro-pop is very indie-esque the way that Sylvan Esso is. A bit dancey yet moody, like a heavy sort of pop if you will. These two acts from North Carolina were meant to go on tour together.

Flock of Dime at Lagunitas Live 8/21/2017
photo by Marc Fong 

There was a hint of bashfulness when Amelia and Nick took the stage and a wild sense of awe in their eyes, as if they were surprised to see all of us right there staring back at them. Going from playing in front of massive crowds on the festival circuit to one-off shows at high capacity venues to the very intimate setting is a drastic difference. We were after all, all up in their "business", the best way possible of course.

Sylvan Esso at Lagunitas Live 8/21/2017 
photo by Marc Fong 

With the sun still shining bright a hazy ambience swirled from the stage as fog from a fog machine mixed with the rhythmic beats of "Could I Be".  They extended the song from their self-titled debut by adding more falsetto "oh whys" which ended up bleeding right into "Just Dancing" off the new album. 

After the first two songs I lost track of the set-list and just got lost in the music. What Now has been
on repeat since it was released earlier this year and at the start of every song I found myself thinking "I'm so happy they're playing this" along with also finding myself dancing to every single song. The duo seemed to warm up as they played on, smiling as they caught glimpses of the crowd that was close, throwing a shout out to the crowd on the little grassy knoll and talking about their new album which Amelia said wasn't really new anymore because it came out in April.  For such a small, outdoor venue the acoustics were good and offered a stripped sound for the synth saturated act.  

Sylvan Esso at Lagunitas Live 8/21/2017 
photo by Marc Fong 

They played all of the most popular songs from both records: "Coffee", "Hey Mami", "Radio", "Die Young", "Rewind", "Wolf", "KickJumpTwist", "Dress", "H.S.K.T". You name it, they most likely played it in the hour or so they were on stage. Everyone got a Sylvan Esso Live at Lagunitas poster on their way out and I couldn't have been any happier leaving that show.  My concert going heart was full, the Sylvan Esso fan in me elated.

Sylvan Esso at Lagunitas Live 8/21/2017 
photo by Marc Fong 

It was a special night for obvious reasons; moreover, all proceeds from the show (ticket and beer sales) went to Planned Parenthood which made being there, in support of that all the more special.

Two days later, they played their second sold out show at The Fox Theater in Oakland. With the stage and light design in full effect and the spectacular sound system that venue has, it was a completely different experience. Flock of Dimes had a bigger, more produced sound, while Sylvan Esso was more polished with a whole lot more room for Amelia to wiggle around the stage in her super high platform kicks and wiggle she did.

Sylvan Esso at The Fox Theater in Oakland 8/23/2017 
photo by Nikki DeMartini

The last date of their North American tour is in North Carolina where they will reunite with Jenn Wasner when she reunites with Wye Oak and special guests Tune-Yards on September 30th at Shakori Hills. 

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