9/10/14 – The Sinclair

After filling the venue with her striking vocals in a stellar opening set, wingless soul-pop fairy Doe Paoro of Brooklyn, New York fluttered offstage, leaving behind Brooklyn look-a-likes aplenty. The audience, complete with horn-rimmed glasses and button-up Hawaiian shirts, eagerly arched their necks to catch a glimpse of the main act. Right on cue, enter a pair of sneakers and six-inch platform shoes. (Amelia, we know you’re fond of those clunky soles.)

“Is she wearing them?” asked a girl on tiptoes.

“If she wasn’t, you wouldn’t be able to see her over the speakers,” replied her boyfriend.

Sylvan Esso‘s pulsing electro-pop has a kind of introverted bedroom-production feel that could translate poorly in a live setting. But the duo’s heartfelt goofiness and apparent readiness to bare it all (hairy underarms included) were warmly welcomed by those at The Sinclair.

As lead vocalist Amelia Meath danced onstage on the tips of her toes, producer Nick Sanborn cranked the knobs of his synth—together transforming the crowd into a willowing blanket of nodding heads. At times, Meath got lost in her little dance numbers, contorting into some ballerina-like stance or pausing for a curtsy during “Dress,” but she’d always come back down to Earth, hands at her heart, smiling down at the crowd as they applauded the end of each track.

Hits like “Coffee” sent ripples across the crowd, with hands waving in the air and bodies locking into a unified sway. Regretfully, though, we only heard what felt like a glimmer of “Hey Mami” slipped in between two other tracks. Sanborn took charge of the song about cat calling, adding in layers of looped “Hey Mami’s” (which culminated with Meath wagging her finger at his cheekiness).

But despite Meath’s antics, it was Sanborn who added that something extra. He was no “press play” producer, no bobble-head stand in, no mannequin thrown on stage to look pretty (though I’m sure some thought his beard was dashing.) Sanborn put the complexities of each song on full display: Each click and bleep seemed to be pulled, twisted, coaxed from the machine. He didn’t just fiddle with the knobs; he wrestled with them.

During closer “Come Down,” the spotlight once again shone on Sanborn, who ended the night with a tinkling of classical guitar samples, the fshhh of steam, and fizzling snaps, pops, and crackles that would make any box of Rice Krispies envious. As the duo exited the stage, they raised their plastic cups. Cheers, Sylvan Esso.

Snap, Crackle, Pop: Sylvan Esso
  • Truly a team effort
  • Clear sincerity
  • Dancing sometimes distracting
8.6Overall Score

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