SYLVAN ESSO + FLOCK OF DIMES @ THE HOLLYWOOD PALLADIUM
Photos by Leslie Kalohi Words by Kyle Smith
Friday night show energy is often the best. Everyone has tossed those papers in the air on their way out of the office for a night on the town with the weekend ahead. Meld that “fuck it” feel with a groovy electro pop show and suddenly you’re negotiating exponential growth.
Durham, North Carolina’s Sylvan Esso landed the mothership in Hollywood, at a Palladium packed to the gills with a dance thirsty contingent. On tour to support LP What Now, SE dropped a set that showed off their evolution, evidenced by a playful confidence of a band totally in control along with support from Flock of Dimes.
Amelia Meath did as she pleased, mic in hand while sauntering left to right and back again, while her partner in crime Nick Sanborn twisted electronic knobbery. Their collective output belied their limited head count.
After starting with telltale prayer of “Sound” (“All you’ll be is sound”), came arcade chase urgency in final passage of “Kick Jump Twist,” and an angular arc in “Die Young,” both standout cuts off of What Now. The one that made them indie famous, “Coffee,” had an extra splash of thump mixed in with electroxylophone.
Meath flaunted her voice best with deep smokey howls in “Wolf,” a cat-like cry in “Signal,” crazy fast spit rhyme enunciation in “Dress,” and eventually she just let it rip in “Uncatena.”
Truth be told, the lights did help the duo. Boomerang shaped panels arranged in a semi-circle illuminated in a way that evoked the presence of a tricked out UFO. In “Hey Mami” came a hot pink and white palette, in “Rewind” it was the full rainbow spectrum.
Sanborn executed a digital whip crack in “H.S.K.T.” that made all the lively songs that preceded it seem tame in comparison. By the end of the tune, Meath was aping “Vogue” moves over a relentless backbeat.
The delicate “Slack Jaw,” a song that typically appears in Sylvan Esso’s main set, was played to start a three-song encore on Friday. As if to come full circle with the theme in opener “Sound,” Amelia Meath returned to sing to us about singing to us: “There’s so many rhythms and harmonies.”
It is impressive to think that Sylvan Esso can get a sold out room going, all arms raised in unison, without any organic or traditional instrumentation. Each of their deep electronic throbs served as a reminder of a tribal past, but more so that we all live in the future.
Could I Be
Kick Jump Twist
Play It Right