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Archive for the ‘Darlingside’ Category

[POSTPONED: April 9, 2020] Darlingside / Francesca Blanchard

indexWe have seen Darlingside four times and they are always wonderful.

Seeing them at the Sellersville Theater would probably have been a great experience because the sound in that room is tremendous.

We had seen them fairly recently, and Sellersville is kind of a pain for us to get to though so we hadn’t actually gotten tickets for it.  Plus I had several other show already lined up that week.

If they reschedule though, I’m sure we’ll go.

I didn’t know Francesca Blanchard.  Her bio says

Francesca Blanchard is a French-American songwriter based in Burlington, Vermont. Since the release of her bilingual folk debut Deux Visions in 2015, the genre-bending songwriter has been busy redefining her wheelhouse.

It says that she has gone in a slightly more pop-oriented vein.  I’d have loved to hear her sing in French.  So perhaps the rescheduled dates will feature her opening again.

 

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[ATTENDED: September 29, 2019] Philly Music Fest

For those counting, this makes four concerts in four nights, which is frankly insane (and thanks to my poor wife who tolerates such excesses).

But the whole reason I wanted to go this evening was to see Man Man (more in their own post).

But, in fact, the entire Philly Music Fest was pretty fantastic.  I would have certainly gone to three of the four nights if I could have.  This little festival is a testament to the amazing music that Philadelphia is producing, and they didn’t even include two of my favorite Philly bands, Mannequin Pussy and Control Top.

The first night I actually didn’t know any of the bands.

  • Wednesday 9/25 at Milkboy (a venue I haven’t been to yet)
  • Secret American
  • Sixteen Jackies
  • Ceramic Animal

The second night was an amazing line up! (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 27, 2019] Darlingside

This is now the fourth time we’ve seen Darlingside and our second time seeing them at SOPAC.  SOPAC is a great intimate seated venue with excellent sound (and a very strong air conditioner apparently, holy cow was it cold in there).

The last time we saw them there, there was an opening band.  But this time there was no opener.  Rather, Darlingside would play two forty-five minute sets with an intermission between.

We also brought S.’s mom as a treat, believing that she would love their harmonies.  And she sure did.  I think we know what to get her for Christmas.

Our seats were great–second row, although I joked with S. that we were too far to the left (instead of dead center).

So this was their second time in the same venue.  Some things were the same.  I don’t remember exactly, but I feel like at the last show they were lit by these same very cool old-fashioned bulbs (which you can see in a picture below) as well as the stage lights.  I enjoyed that they were somewhat connected to the music–growing brighter as things got more intense. (more…)

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[NOT ATTENDED: January 17, 2019] Henry Jamison/Guster

S. and I love Guster and will see them as often as we can.  They are a fantastic live band.  So when they announced a show on a very special day for us, we were especially excited–and even imagined requesting a shout out.

Then five days before the show on Jan 12 we received this disappointing email.

Your event is still on, but it’s been rescheduled.

Guster Fillmore Philadelphia Thursday, January 17th
NEW DATE: Saturday, March 23rd with the doors opening at 7PM

Please Note: On Thursday January 17th Guster will be appearing on Late Night with Seth Meyers on NBC.

Although obviously it was pretty exciting that they were going to be on late night TV!

Then January 14, Guster sent out this email

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DARLINGSIDE-Live at Newport Folk Festival (July 27, 2018).

Darlingside never disappoints and this stream from Newport Folk Festival is an excellent opportunity to hear them live.

The sound quality is excellent and their voices are more clear than on the record!

I had no idea this was only their first time at Newport Folk est and Harris is suitably excited (even though it’s only 11AM).

It’s also an opportunity to hear their one of a kind banter.

The harmonies on “Go Back” are just heavenly.  And they are positively angelic on “Singularity.”

The introductory cello solo at the beginning of “Harrison Ford” was a delightful change.  And the guitar really rocks loud on “Eschaton” (almost like a real rock band!)

There’s also the hilarious band member introduction (different at every show).

Auyon says that they were able to play for a boys and girls camp, Camp Grovernor.  But something was lost in communication and the camp director thought the band name was “Don Mitchell,” (their banjo player).  And the director was asking, “Is it Don Mitchell and the…”  Auyon explained that the Don Mitchell is silent and it’s just Darlingide.  This got him to wonder what the band would be if each member was the main character.

Dave Senft plays kick drum, bass and guitar.  Dave had a child recently so it would be Dave Senft and The Weird Uncles.
Harris Paseltiner plays cello and guitar. Harris lights his beer light in body and light in color and as far as I can tell utterly devoid of flavor…  so Harris Paseltiner and The Lightest Beers.
Don Mitchell plays banjo and guitar.  Don is from CT and is steeped in New England traditions, like nativism and xenophobia which he demonstrates every time he uses Midwestern as an insult…. which is particularly irksome to those of us in the band who are from the Midwest.  In the spirit of brotherhood, Don Mitchell and The Midwesterners.
Auyon Mukharji plays mandolin and violin and with me we would be Auyon Mukharji and the Best of Friends.

Harris: it’s the first time he’s ever been earnest.  It must be something in the water.
Don: that was the height of Midwesternness.
Auyon: and it felt really good.

This the first time I’ve heard them play the Neil Young song “Red Sun” which sounds great of course.  It’s done a capella, too.

  • “The God of Loss”
  • “Go Back”
  • “White Horses”
  • “Extralife”
  • “Harrison Ford”
  • “Singularity”
  • “Eschaton”
  • “Red Sun (Neil Young)”
  • “Blow The House Down”

[READ: February 4, 2016] “Five Arrows”

This is strange little story about a man who moves to an island because his gangrenous foot smells so bad that he has ejected himself from polite society.

But it is told from the point of view of a young boy, Insu.  Insu is from the village of Bupyeong in Korea.  But he has lived in The United States and Germany for the last two years.

Insu is shocked at what has happened to their village–the river which five years ago was so clear you could see the bottom was now dammed up and cloudy.  The locals were trying to grow carp.

It turns out that Insu and his friend are rowing across the river to find Big Uncle and Little Uncle.  They are skipping school and know that the uncles can keep a secret. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 10, 2018] David Wax Museum

Our whole family saw David Wax Museum play at XPNFest a few years ago.  They were great (and were very friendly afterwards).  We knew we wanted to see them again, so when we saw that they were playing this tiny venue at SteelStacks (and that admission was FREE), we couldn’t pass it up.  The fact that it also coincided with the Food Truck Border Brawl (in which food trucks from NJ and PA battle for most popular dish) did not hurt!

The weather sure did though.  It was rainy and a but chilly.  Not ideal food truck weather.  So, rather than making a day of it, we drove down for dinner.  We enjoyed our food truck food and then headed inside for the show.  I think it was supposed to be outside, but they wisely moved this show inside to be incredibly intimate.

It was also fun to have the kids with us for this show (even if Clark chose not to sit with us and we wound up keeping them up and out pretty late–but hey it was almost summer). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DARLINGSIDE-Pilot Machines (2012).

The first Darlingside EP had no information about the band.  It was almost a blank slate.  This, their first full album at least gives us this:

Darlingside consists of David Senft, vocals and guitar; Harris Paseltiner, cello, guitar and vocals; Auyon Mukharji, mandolin, violin and vocals; Don Mitchell, guitar and vocals; and Sam Kapala, drums and vocals.

Yes, drums.  This is the final Darlingside album with drums and the final Darlingside album with a sound that is not their current sound.  At this time Darlingside was more of an indie folk rock band who sang with great harmonies and had some unusual instruments.  But they still rocked in a fairly conventional way (in fact the drums are often front and center).

“Still” bursts forth with harmonies (ahhhs) and loud drums. They play with a loud/quiet dynamic within the verses.  It sounds like Darlingside if you squint your ears.  The lyrics are pretty funny, (and now a message from our sponsor) and it’s really catchy too.  But those drums really modify everything.

“The Woods” opens with the kind of harmonies that Darlingside would become known for.  But this song has a propulsive drum moves things forward.  It also highlights some great wild violin and a short spaced-out outro with some heavily processed vocals.  “The Woods” and “Ava,” both have really big loud moments.  Ava starts with a thumping bass and picking guitars but it builds nicely with some great tension between the vocals and guitars.

“Drowning Elvis,” has a very spaced-out drum groove, lots of strings and a clean guitar sound.  “The Company We Keep” features mandolin and high voices.  It’s a pretty, folkie song.

“Blow the House Down” is familiar to fans because they have re-recorded it and play it live consistently.  “The Ancestor” was also recorded without the drums for their next album.  This version has a kind of low thrum underneath the song but the drums are just a kick drum.  It sounds pretty close to the familiar version.

I’d actually like to hear this whole album re-recorded in their current style (no disrespect to their drummer), but the rock band format changes the whole sound of the songs and it would be interesting to hear how they differ.

Having said that, this rock band format also makes some great songs.  “Only Echoes” starts as a slower, moodier piece but midway through it dramatically shifts gears and grows really loud with a buzzy bass and distorted guitar and smashing drums.  It’s the most un-Darlingside song I can imagine, but it’s really great.

“When Fortune Comes” and “My Love” are quieter songs.  “Fortune” focuses on their harmonies (there’s no drums).  While “My Love” has shuffling drums and an upright bass.  The lyrics are also a bit rougher than expected: “You weren’t the first to call me….an arrogant son of a bitch but…”

“Terrible Things” opens with snapping drums a rocking staccato guitar line.  The singers do a series of single note “coo” sounds that’s pretty neat.  The vocal harmonies are really cool and a little spooky, too.  It’s a neat song.

“Sweet an Low” has a very smooth sound (and an extra vocalist–Caitlyn Canty).  The final two minute are kind of an extended jam with this little electronic device.

When I first listened to this after falling in love with Darlingside’s current sound, I didn’t like this very much.  But having listened a few times, I really like these songs.  They’re very well crafted with some excellent details.

[READ: February 5, 2018] “Fletcher Knowles”

This excerpt is from a then novel-in-progress and it is a doozy.  It’s very funny and very meta and once again I can’t imagine where the story is going to go from here.

The story begins with the character saying that his name is Fletcher Knowles.  And he is going to tell his story.  He says that he is going to tell everything from memory and that you should never doubt your own memory.  Nor should you trust anyone who says that they doubt their own memory.

So he is going to tell his story exactly as he wants to.  Which means he is not going to: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DARLINGSIDE-EP1 (2010).

It’s amazing in retrospect how bland the first Darlingside song on their first EP is.

Darligside is a unique band, with gorgeous harmonies and unexpected instrumentation.  Their songs are gorgeous.

But this album is very different.  The first main difference is that there is a drummer–a real drummer named Sam Kapala.  Kapala is quite good, but wow does that change the entire tone of a Darlingside song.  Second, the band doesn’t sing everything in harmony.  Rather, there is one main singer (I think David) with the other guys singing fairly standard backing vocals.

The whole Ep has a kind of raspy-voiced-folk rock exploration feel.  The first song “Good Song” still has some mandolin, but only sparsely and the chorus melody sounds so much like another song or songs that I can’t get past it

“Surround” has a bit more of that Darlingside feel–the music is a bit more esoteric.  But the vocals are the same–that raspy-voiced lead singer.

But each song gets more interesting.  “Malea” has more of that cool violin and some really good drumming.  There’s definitely flashes of greatness on this EP, including in this song–although they need to bring in some of that cool vocal stuff.

“Catbird Seat” has some lovely violin and great whispered vocals.

“All That Wrong” starts almost a capella with some quiet guitar. It builds slowly until the middle section with the fast guitar and mandolin and the squeaky violin solo which is awesome.

“In the Morning” ends the disc with a quiet vocal melody but it eventually adds more singers and starts to sound more and more like the Darlingside we know.  In part because the drumming is left out almost entirely.  It feels like with three more songs they’d be on the verge of creating Birds Say.  But not yet.

[READ: January 22, 2018] “If Told Correctly”

I think the reason for William’s constantly publication is that it is so easy to fit at least one, or even more of them into a space in a magazine.  Got a small column to fill?  Grab 7 Williams stories.

This is a collection of five such stories

None of This Would Have Been Remotely Feasible
This story begin with the narrator admitting that she is smart and likes jokes.  So this is suitable for certain people.  The police found her in a pile of snow saying she didn’t want to live anymore.  Her mother saved her life. “This morning I was walking toward a tree… A woman was crying Melba! Melba!”  Perhaps it is a dog, that’s what we’re led to believe.  The last sentence is just a random jumble of words: “After a pause I looked into the world but I never found those.”  What? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DARLINGSIDE-Tiny Desk Concert #739 (May 4, 2018).

I genuinely can’t believe that Darlingside hasn’t done a Tiny Desk Concert before as they are a perfect band for it–four guys playing primarily acoustic instruments, singing gorgeous harmonies around one microphone–perfect..

But here they are for the first time sounding somehow bigger than they do live (must be the small space and the surprisingly loud bass).

If you’re Darlingside and you have three albums out (but two that fans really love) and you can only play three songs, what do you choose? You must choose something from Birds Say, of course, but what?

They chose “The God of Love” one of several gorgeous songs on the album and a showcase for Don Mitchell’s 12 string guitar and Auyon Mukharji’s violin.

I did not know that

“The God of Loss” was inspired by the Arundhati Roy book The God of Small Things, and by the main character’s attempts to preserve humanity in the face of competing forces.

As is standard practice, Harris Paseltiner give the opening introduction.  He speaks of being up since five and drinking decaf and eating a delicious quiche.  Don quips, “don’t worry you only have to hear about Harris’ morning in minute detail, not he rest of us.”

And then it’s time to move on to the new album.  The current single “The Best of the Best of Times” allows them to show off the new electronic gizmo that adds sounds to the album as well as Auyon’s mandolin.  It’s also really catchy, and Don throws in all kinds of unexpected dissonance with that little electronic thingy.

Auyon introduces the band by saying how they are similar to Bob Boilen (I did a little research on the internet).

Don: Tiny Desk Concert is named after a band that Bob was part of (Tiny Desk Unit) with a friend named Michael Barron.  Don has a friend named Michael with whom he plays music (Michael Cohen, different Michael, same idea).

Don: has a friend name Michael who whom he played music.  (Michael Cohen, different Michael, same Idea)

Harris: Bob grew up around Italian people and uses his hands to speak.  So does Harris.

Dave: thinks about the sound of words and how good it feels to say things and Bob’s “stage name” Bob Boilen is very pleasant to say so they probably gave that in common.

Auyon: Bob sometimes wears bolo ties I also sometimes wear bolo ties.

The end the set with Harris on cello and Auyon on violin playing the gorgeous, melancholy “Extra life” which

starts off the album with these lines:

“It’s over now
The flag is sunk
The world has flattened out
Under the under grow
I’ve always found
A level further down
As I begin to lose hold of
The fiery flowerbeds above
Mushroom clouds reset the sky
Extralife”

After the string-filled opening Harris jumps back to guitar and Auyon is back on mandolin while Dave Senft is playing the little electronic gadget this time

The opening is nearly a capella so that when the band kicks in, the full instrumentation on the second verse, it feels huge.

Through these end-of-time lyrics comes deep appreciation for what we have and what’s worth holding on to. And through it all Darlingside’s humor shines, with in-between chatter about quiche and common bonds. Don’t miss this band’s music. This is the perfect introduction to Darlingside, right here.

Every time I’ve heard them they’ve been great.  The only downside to this show is that it’s so short.

[READ: March 30, 2018] “Find the Edges”

This was a very sad, rather short story about death and a family disintegrating.

The central metaphor of putting a puzzle together was really effective without being obvious.

His wife loved jigsaw puzzles.  She always said to find the edges and work your way in. But the kitchen table, which usually held her puzzles was now filled with papers, bills for wreaths and the like.  Also on the table was a pie from the Rendons next store. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 30, 2018] Darlingside

Sarah and I saw Darlingside just three months ago at SOPAC.  I was surprised that they were coming back to the area just a couple months later (even if by the area I mean two cities which are 90 miles apart).  Even my son, who doesn’t always seem to pay attention to what we do said “Didn’t you just see them?”

The reason I was so intrigued to see them again so soon was three-fold.

  1. Their new album wasn’t out yet when we saw them in December.  Now it was and I assumed they’d play more from it.
  2. SOPAC was a quiet, sit down, well-behaved place and I was curious to see if they performed differently in a bar/club.
  3. They are amazing, so why not?

Really the big question for me was the second one.  What would they be like in a noisy club.  Well, they still sounded amazing and just like Darlingside.  They didn’t really change their game that I noticed.  And in fact, the crowd changed for them.  While there was some chatter, the crowd was there to hear them, and we knew what we’d be getting, so we were quiet when we should be (with some exceptions).

The biggest difference was between songs, when people went pretty wild, and the guys responded appropriately–not getting wild themselves, but ramping up their own outgoingness.

The guys have a stage patter in place.  After a couple of songs, one of them will step up to the mic (they only ever use one mic which is magical because it picks up every breath and utterance) and addresses everyone with a story.

After playing two new songs (including using their Septavox, on “Eschaton” which adds a small element of electronics to their otherwise acoustic set).  In SOPAC they talked about this gadget, here they did not.  It was their first time to address us.

Cellist/guitarist Harris came up and was just so full of smiles and goodwill that it really set the mood for the night.  (He raised him arms and shouted Yes!).  He told us that last night they tried “Philadelphia Vanilla Ice Cream” for the first time. Which he was not even aware of this being a thing before then [nor was I].  He tried to describe it and the crowd responded appropriately (with someone shouting “Phanilla.”

And then they he told us that “Go Back” is based on Back to the Future II, which I did know.

They played some flawless songs from Birds Say (they do actually have quite a number of releases even if they focus on the two newest ones).  The harmonies on “White Horses” (and , honestly every song) are just breathtaking.

David, who plays bass and an underrated kick drum spoke about opening act Twain.  All of the bands whom Twain opens for seem to really like his music or at least him.  So he raved about Twain for a bit and then joked about how much fun it is to substitute the word “twain” for other words in sentences.  I can’t help but wonder if we are missing something.  There was also some talk about toilet paper, with David being shocked that not everyone folds it into a perfect square.

The crowd enjoyed the new songs and showed great appreciation for the old songs.  I was amazed at how great all of the songs sounded, but especially the really soaring ones like “My Gal, My Guy.”  And when the smaller more fun songs like “Harrison Ford” began, there was thunderous applause.

It was also cool when Harris sat at cello for “The Ancestor” but you could still hear his vocal contributions even some three feet from the mic.

Guitarist/banjoist Don told us that he had signed up to donate blood marrow and that we could too (I could not, as the requirements are surprisingly strict).  That wasn’t the usual fun banter, but it was perfectly in line with them as decent human beings.  And I say that unironically.  The four of them seem like the nicest guys in the world.  (And when we met them it all seemed genuine).

The band doesn’t “do a lot on stage.”  They switch positions a bunch depending on who needs to be doing what.  I always enjoy seeing Auyon on the mandolin like on “Whipoorwill.” But mostly they huddle around that amazing microphone and sing like four-part-harmonious angels.  I’m amazed that the bass doesn’t clatter against things–they must all be very well used to playing in small spaces.

Auyon is a crowd favorite.  So when he got up to speak there was thunderous applause and he acknowledged it by saying it was appreciated but over the top.  He often introduces the band and he did so tonight by discussing what was on their rider.

They’ve had a rider for a long time, bu only recently are venues starting to look at them.  He says its difficult to make one because what you want when you are sitting on your couch at home making up a rider is not necessarily what you want the night of a show.

He says they try not to be wasteful.  Don overheard the guys at Union Transfer discussing the requests, saying that tit’s all healthy stuff and very very specific.  The phrases” lack of imagination and daring” were thrown around as was the word “restrained” but not in a positive way.

 

He told us that Harris does push ups to stay in shape.  But he is worried that he apparently massive chest will ruin his writs making him unable to play, so he doesn’t really do them, after all.

When he introduced Don, and the crowd roared, Don pumped his arms trying to get the crowd louder which made everyone on stage laugh.  Auyon deadpanned that the first time at a Darlingside show that anyone has done that motion–we don’t even pick things up.  Don confesses, “It felt really bad too.  I’m never going to do it again.”

Auyon told us that Don orders half beers.  He’ll ask to split a beer, which is something no bartender respects.

When he introduced himself, the crowd went over the top with applause which led him to say that he believed that we were just messing with him now.  He said, “I usually have the other half of the beer because I only want half, too.”

There is really nothing like hearing them singing the gorgeous “Good For You.”

I was thrilled when they played their new song “The Best of the Best of Times” which Harris introduced by saying they were writing it in England during Brexit and they thought things would be better at home.  And then look what happened.  We are a long way from the best of the best of times, indeed.

I wasn’t sure what to expect for an encore.  I mean they’d played pretty much everything I wanted to hear.  The set list wasn’t too differet from at SOPAC.  It may have even been exactly the same songs, just in a different order.  I don’t know what will happen when they do another new album and start having to remove songs from the set list, I need my 7 songs from Birds Say!

The first encore was “Orion” a new song (someone shouted for their cover of 1979 which I REALLY wanted to hear, too, but they didn’t play it.

They ended with their sorta rocker (and suitable show ender) “Blow the House Down” which has a raging (for them) guitar solo and some wild violin.

They hung out after the show to meet people, but it was time for us to leave, so we didn’t say hi.  We’d chatted with them just a few months ago.

Amazingly, they will be back in the Philly area two more times before the end of the summer.  May 18 at the Kimmel Center opening for  Brandi Carlisle and then July 29 at XPN Festival.

Setlist
Singularity [EX]
Eschaton [EX]
Go Back [Birds]
White Horses [Birds]
My Gal, My Guy [Birds]
Hold Your Head Up High [EX]
Extralife [EX]
The Ancestor [Birds]
Harrison Ford [Birds]
Whippoorwill [ep]
Futures [EX]
Good For You [Birds]
Best of the Best Times [EX]
The God of Loss [Birds]

Encore:
Orion [EX]
Blow the House Down [Pilot]

What didn’t they play?
From Birds Say: Clay & Cast Iron; Birds Say; Water Rose; Do You Ever Live; She’s All Around; Volcano Sky
From Extra Life: Old Friend; Lindisfarne; The Rabbit and the Pointed Gun; Indian Orchard Road; Rita Hayworth

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