Sylvan Esso at the Civic

On Friday night Sylvan Esso rolled into The Civic for the last stop on their fall tour.  With some shows things just line up perfectly.  The sold out Friday night crowd arrived early and excitedly.  The entire production swelled with relief that the tour was winding down.  New Orleans is legendary for helping folks release stress and the Sylvan Esso show turned into a massive sigh of relief for performers and audience alike.  Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn were in high spirits.  Meath’s father was not just in attendance but in the middle of the pit with the rest of the writhing masses.  It was a night of small coincidences that amplified themselves into the sort of evening that resonates with the crowd long past its end.  Generally when a show ends and the “lights up” music comes on there is a rather quick dash to the exits.  This night the “lights up” music was Hall and Oates “You Make My Dreams Come True,” which merely amplified the residual energy from the concert and transitioned the venue into a dance club.  Very few people left.  There was a juggler that appeared in the balcony (not kidding).  All of these little moments were tied together by an outstanding showing from Meath and Sandborn.  The years these two have spent on the road together have paid off with excellent arrangements of classic tracks and ideal incorporation of new pieces of material.  When you have a set that ends “Uncatena”, “Hey Mami”, “H.S.K.T.”, “Radio” and follow it up with an encore of “Rewind” and “Play it Right,” you are looking at a remarkably powerful half hour of music.  Meath let go on the final refrain from “Uncatena,” which has always felt like one of the most personal moments in any of their songs.  The lyric is “All I want from you’s a letter and to be your distant lover that is all that I can offer at this time.”  There was a raw elegance to her delivery that snapped the room into her vibe from there through the end of the set.  Catharsis is an appropriate way to describe that lights up moment.  As a group performers and audience alike went through an emotional journey together and were delivered to the other side with tremendous joy.



Japanese Breakfast at the HiHo

On Wednesday night Michelle Zauner will bring her Japanese Breakfast project to the HiHo.  Earlier this summer Zauner released an excellent new record Soft Sounds From Another Planet.  I asked her to talk a bit about her creative process and particularly about the profound confluence of the mechanical and the emotional on this record. 

“Creating sound is a pretty intuitive experience for me," she said. "A lot of the time it really feels like I'm just relentlessly chasing some kind of voice in my head. Every time I add something, it often makes way for a new sound to emerge that I then chase those until it feels finished. Lyrics are generally a more considered task with more reflection involved. That's sort of where the themes emerge.

"Sometimes I go back after those lyrical themes have been established and sort of add to the songs to convey more of that feeling.  I'd say more of the sort of cosmic, spacey themes are more of what made their way in sonically vs. mechanical feelings.” 

Part of this contrast is related to the initial origins of the record as a concept album that were abandoned part way through.  Zauner talked a bit about the difficulty of the long form project, “I really enjoy concept records and think they can be done successfully and feel genuine. I think I just wasn't quite ready to take on such a dramatic shift. I wasn't ready to stop exploring parts of my personal life that I felt really benefited from working it out through my art. I experienced a really big life change and I needed to keep writing about it, I wasn't ready to stop talking about it.

"Ultimately, I think it was the right move for me as an artist because I think people maybe need some more time to understand you before you break away from yourself that way. They need to learn more about your humor and your style before you flip it on its head.” 

The personal exploration that Zauner continues to plumb here yields ample fruit.  There is a quiet heaviness to Japanese Breakfast tracks that is quite alluring.  The new album is excellent and the live show will be perfectly intimate at the HiHo. 


ROAR! at One Eyed Jacks

Local duo ROAR! will play Jacks.  I had the pleasure of catching this pair at Buku and they were fantastic.  Check out the video for “Water” below.


To Do This Week

Tonight the Wild Magnolias are at Tipitinas.  Tomorrow DJ Jazzy Jeff is at Tips for Soul Sister’s birthday jam.  On Saturday you can catch Honey Island Swamp Band at the Ace Hotel.  Also Saturday Rockin Doopsie and Leo Nocentelli are at the St. Tammany Crab Festival.  Sunday Spyro Gyra are at Tips.  Monday Modest Mouse is at the Civic.  Wednesday if you’re not going to Japanese Breakfast at the Hi-Ho check out The Melvins at One Eyed Jacks.


To Listen This Week