It had been way too long since I’d last seen a show. Two months and one day, to be precise, and during the summertime in NYC, it’s unheard of to go that long without a concert. Sure, I was in California for a week and we also had 3 weeks of communal mourning (nothing personal – it’s a Jewish period of mourning that happens every year) during which I was unable to attend a live show. But that still leaves and entire month of summertime sans concerts.
So when Yishai mentioned to me that this band The Antlers was playing a free show at Pier 54, I just had to go. No, I’d never heard The Antlers before (though I’d heard of them). But I trust Yishai’s musical advice; after all, he was the friend who convinced me to try out The National, so basically anything he suggests will be heard by my ears.
And there’s just something about going to a concert when you have never heard the band before. Your first taste of their sound isn’t a polished studio offering; it’s a brash, but true, representative of what they truly are as a band. There’s no auto-tune or Pro-Tools to polish up the sound. There’s no artificial makeup or fancy dressed up music – just a few guys, their instruments, and the sounds they can make on the spot.
Needless to say, The Antlers did not disappoint. Alas, I’m only nervous that when I eventually lend my ears to their albums that it won’t be able to compare to their live show. The first thing that you feel at an Antlers show (which Yishai warned me about) is a thumping in your chest. For some reason, they mic the bass drum super loud so that you literally feel it in your body. Whether this is symbolism for the emotional pumping of the heart that is evident in their lyrics, or just they way they like to sound live – it’s something I always love. When you really feel, and don’t just hear the music, it’s a lot easier to get yourself wrapped up in the beauty and magic of a concert.
I’m currently obtaining a copy of the album, and once I go back to the specific songs, I’ll be able to go back through the setlist, comment on what songs I liked and which blew me away. But I also enjoy the perspective of the newcomer – something I don’t always get to appreciate. As a music blogger and an obsessive music fan, it’s rare that I have the opportunity to go to a show without any preconceived notions about the songs or band, without any hopes for specific songs to be played, and without any expectations.
Tonight, as sunset turned to dusk on Pier 54, and the blue sky turned to dark, I was pleasantly surprised. By the band, by the scenery, and by the concert as a whole. And I’ll always cherish this time I saw The Antlers, as I know that I’ll never again be able to experience this wonderful band with my mind as open as it was tonight.
Check out the band’s NPR concert from DC last year here, enjoy the track, and enjoy the very amateurish pictures that were taken with an iPhone. What I lacked in pixels I made up for in sheer enjoyment of picture-taking. Enjoy!
The Antlers – Epilogue