story and pictures / Adeline Tan
The Antlers played an intimate show in Le Poisson Rouge Wednesday 12th June 2013. It felt like everyone in that room had a personal connection with the band. Maybe it was the intimacy of the setting, the small quarters and brilliant encompassing sound. The Antlers came from the evolution of Peter Silberman’s bedroom recordings to a fully realized band. They are a Brooklyn, New York based indie band that started out as a solo lo-fi folk project and rapidly progressed into an immense sounding chamber rock group. Ambient pop tunes stretched with Silberman’s high falsetto notes and drawn out vocals. The Antlers transported you into a dreamlike state, swaying side to side like you are in a trance. Simply ethereal.
The Brooklyn trio, playing as a quartet, released an amazing album Burst Apart in early 2011 and an EP in 2012 entitled Undersea, both met with great acclaim. Those familiar with Hospice, the group’s breakthrough and perhaps even the best album of 2009, know The Antlers as intimate, heartbreaking, and lyrically driven. While the album was recorded as a three-piece, the songs came from frontman Peter Silberman. The story behind Hospice has been discussed, but Silberman has explained the record as being the story of an emotionally abusive relationship, told through the likeness of a Hospice worker and terminally ill patient.
The Antlers opened their set with “Drift Drive,” a song filled with extraordinarily murky melodies and submerged reverb, the first song off the band’s latest and fittingly titled EP, “Undersea.” The unnerving expressiveness of Silberman’s lush soundscape transformed the apparently ordinary guitar riffs into short, declarative stanzas within a majestic, lyrical narrative. Poetic lamentations seem to be a trend with most of Silberman’s songs.
“Rolled Together,” where cymbal crashes, shimmering synth and guitar lines, and trumpet bursts supplement Silberman’s stunning-yet-absurdly-high falsetto. With opulent, expansive hooks and melodies, but with a faintly deeper focus on instrumentation and sound qualities as opposed to an emphasis in storytelling like in The Antler’s debut Hospice. It was an interesting and perfect intro into a concert that focused on the trippy and extended versions of the majority of songs.
The Antlers incorporate voice and instrument in an abnormal song structure, especially when followed live by the more predictable alternative rock-record structure of Hospice’s “Bear,” it is obvious that the band is moving into much more fascinating terrain musically.
“Wake” was one of the highlights of the concert, showcasing Peter Silberman’s ethereal voice and matchless harmonies that were not on the album version. Silberman then follows with a passionate tortured delivery of “Don’t ever let anyone tell you you deserve that” which sent chills down my spine.
“Zelda,” a favorite from the latest EP was sprawled out and so much more exquisite live. The effervescent harmonies toward the end of the tune were just as effortlessly rendered on stage as they were on the record. They dedicated the song “Zelda” to their friend of the same name, who had a bad week. In the airy “Zelda,” Silberman crooned, “I’m here to tell you we’re not awake.” His statement was a whisper blanketing the junction between our dreams and waking life, where somehow everything made sense, if only for a second in time.
Silberman thanked Le Poisson Rouge (he used to work in LPR) stating that it was a very special place and that he has always wanted to play in that venue. “It was worth the wait!” proclaimed Silberman, “I feel very at home! We are very grateful for being here.” In 2009 when they were putting out Hospice, management had to put up with him leaving on tour while working at LPR. He acknowledged the crowd from the bottom of his heart, “You guys are f-ing awesome!”
For the encore they went into “Corsicana” an impressive slow lullaby combined with Silberman’s falsetto serenade, which brought the song to life. Silberman’s yearning vocals plowed through the crowd and the glowing blue lights only enhanced the overall raw emotion of the song. They ended with “Putting the Dog to Sleep,” the closing track off Burst Apart and one of The Antler’s most arresting tracks as it associates euthanizing a pet to a failing relationship. Silberman’s voice rings out with tender emotion when he sings, “Put your trust in me, I’m not gonna die alone” continually. That truly moved the room. The entire set was expansive, full of emotion and a sense of desolation.
The crowd got their money’s worth, with the band playing for over an hour and half. Overall, this was a wonderful concert showcasing the band’s talents and ability to expand upon their songs, making them more grandiose and musically complex. They weren’t there to just play their songs but to take the audience on a journey through their albums. It eases you into its aquatic bliss. Silberman’s vocals are just as captivating live as they are in the studio, if not more emotionally cutting.
Silberman shouted, “Cheers New York! It has been too long. It’s been a long time since we’ve played a proper headlining show!” as they have been spending a lot of time working on their new record. And with that, we can’t wait!
For more pics go here!