Local Current Blog

Review and photos: Sylvan Esso throw a party at First Avenue

Sylvan Esso at First Avenue on August 6, 2017. All photos by Darin Kamnetz for MPR.

Being at a Sylvan Esso concert feels like standing in a confetti shower. That’s not how I would’ve described their music before last night’s show at First Avenue. But standing as small strips of noise tumbled onto each other, watching one of the best light shows I’ve ever seen, I felt a silly glee that’s usually brought on by floating streamers.

Amelia Meath (vocals) and Nick Sanborn (production) didn’t actually dump confetti from the rafters, but as Sylvan Esso, they put on an energetic show. They beefed up their banger reserve with the release of second album What Now in April, so Meath and the crowd got their work-out in as they jumped and shimmied. Even Sanborn banged his head behind his console. Between “Kick Jump Twist,” “H.S.K.T.,” and “Die Young,” the set felt like an extravaganza.

There’s always a touch of the eerie to Sylvan Esso, too, no matter how sparkly they sound. During each of those four chimes in “Coffee,” a single bulb flashed behind the band, and it left me chilled even as Meath’s warm vocals would resurface. When the song ended, a grinning Meath started a chorus of howls, which led into “Wolf.” “Die Young,” one of the catchiest tracks on What Now, details the blaze-of-glory ways the narrator was going to die before meeting someone to stick around for.

The crowd loved the spooky/dance juxtaposition. And the party didn’t stop when Sylvan Esso left the stage; after encore “Play It Right,” First Avenue played Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” as the lights went up. The crowd had so much leftover energy that they stayed on the floor.

Anyone with even more energy can see Sylvan Esso spinning records at the Electric Fetus today from 3-4. They’re also performing another sold-out show at First Avenue tonight.

Sylvan Esso are touring with Flock of Dimes, a.k.a. an ebullient Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak), who got matching tattoos with the band (see: Wasner’s left shoulder and the inside of Meath’s right arm) after their last tour together. On Sunday, she played ten songs, including a cover of “No More ‘I Love You’s” by Annie Lennox. Wasner enthused about First Avenue, saying she loved performing at “one of the greatest clubs in the country slash world. I mean, look at the g—damn beer box guy!” (Upon which fans around the beer box guy waved and gave thumbs-ups.) After her set, she stood waving to the crowd as the screen rolled down.

Flock of Dimes

Sylvan Esso