I knew going into Theatre Corona that a Sylvan Esso show was exactly what I needed. If you’re not familiar with Sylvan Esso, on the male/female electronic duo scale, they fall somewhere in between Sofi Tukker and Oh Wonder. Ironically, they were nominated for their first Grammy award this year in the category of “Best Electronic/Dance Album” for What Now, which was a biting take on the state of pop music. I knew they would put on an energetic and fun show.
The support act was Suzi Analogue, a Brooklyn-based DJ. Female DJs are a rare site, and I was very impressed to see her up on stage enjoying herself when she playing for a crowd, who didn’t quite seem ready for the more intense EDM music that she was offering. I loved how fervently feminist she was, at one point saying, “original beats made by a woman” in a tone that referenced its rarity.
Sylvan Esso’s self-titled debut dropped in my last semester of high school and it defined that time of uncertainty and excitement. I remember listening to “Coffee” in my car constantly, little did I know how much more prevalent that substance would become in university. It felt poetic to review this concert four years later as I finish up my time at university.
Nick Sanborn began the night alone on stage, where he played the first beats of “Sound,” before the introduction of a soft female voice, and singer Amelia Meath made her way on stage. It was a slow introduction, but I knew the pace would pick up. It did, with “Could I Be” off of their debut.
Meath’s voice is much rawer live, but she has a presence on stage that makes up for the less polished feeling of the performance. The show was a great mix of songs from their debut and their most recent album. They then played “Kick Jump Twist,” followed by “Dress”.
“Signal” was one of my favorite tracks of the new record, and it was a lot of fun live, due to the building staccato beats. It led into the song that most people were there to see, “Die Young.” I was happy to see them play it in the middle of the set, rather than close their set with it. The crowd was happy to sing the chorus along with Meath.
Later, they played “Coffee,” which was probably the song that I was there to see. With the first of those soft electronic beats and chimes, a permanent smile was pasted on my face. After the song, Meath introduced the next one by inviting the crowd to join her in howling like wolves, and we certainly did.
I was happy to hear the beats of their new single “PARAD(w/m)E,” which contrasts its apocalyptic themes with an upbeat sound. They closed their set with “Radio,” the clearest example of their biting commentary on popular music. The entire crowd was dancing and singing to the chorus of the song, and I couldn’t help but wonder what this scene, straight out of a pop concert, looked like to Sylvan Esso.
The crowd stomped their feet for an encore, and Sylvan Esso came back out. They played the slow song “Rewind” before ending the night with “Play It Right.” I was happily surprised to hear them end the set with this song because it seemed to put the right cap onto the night.
Sylvan Esso puts on quite a show, one with an energy level that is rarely seen in touring performers. If that show was a stimulant, “Coffee” wouldn’t even come close. I would happily start my morning with my cup of Sylvan Esso.
Review – Rhodes Ford
Photos – Thomas Bock