On stage at the Crystal Ballroom, Peter Silberman of the Antlers called Portland a little slice of paradise. Before a backdrop of changing lights and with the natural beauty of the Crystal Ballroom surrounding them, the Antlers gave back to paradise with a blissful performance of their own on April 1.
Supported by Portland-based folk collective Musée Mécanique and alt-R&B act Shaprece of Seattle, the show was the first of KPSU’s 30 Shows in 30 Days event and KPSU’s first co-presented show with Eleven Magazine at the Crystal Ballroom.
The show began with Musée Mécanique. The band set a dreamy and intricate tone for their set, a theme that would recur throughout the night.
With seven members on stage, their music, and especially their live show, is somewhat reflective of their name. Their detailed and lush folk arrangements were given time to grow and build as their many instruments slowly and beautifully coalesced.
Densely and intricately percussive, their folk music is unafraid of electronics and big sounds, which gave them a lot to work with inside the Crystal Ballroom.
Up next was Shaprece, an alt-R&B singer from Seattle who, during her set, announced that she made dreamy music, keeping with the theme quite nicely.
Unlike Musée Mécanique before her and the Antlers later in the night, Shaprece’s dreams are more of the sensual type. Supported by a producer to her right and a cellist to her left, Shaprece stood in the middle of the stage with confidence, class and an impressive voice to match.
At what was essentially an indie-folk concert, Shaprece’s production was enough to get some concert-goers dancing along to her off-kilter, trippy-but-danceable beats. Perhaps it was the electronic cello that convinced the indie crowd, the addition of which sets Shaprece’s music apart from much of the current alt-R&B acts.
Accompanied by her voice, the cello acted almost as a second vocalist at times, echoing Shaprece or engaging directly with her voice. Her vocal range stretched far, and the music had no problem keeping up.
At one point between songs, she said she wanted to give the audience 1,000 hugs.Unfortunately, I was not the recipient of one of them.
Then, finally, the Antlers.
Full disclosure, as KPSU’s Blake Hickman put it, I am an Antlers fanboy. That’s a fair assessment. At the merch table they had plenty of vinyl LPs of their fan-favorite masterpiece Hospice, a record that has been conspicuously missing from many record stores for far too long.
Between their set and Shaprece, Peter Silberman and Darby Cicci were diligently setting up on stage with the help of the crew, making the anticipation in the air and the crowd even more palpable.
Judging by the relatively large amount of Antlers shirts in the audience and the general moodiness in the air, it’s fair to say that people were here to see the Antlers, a band that people might, just like me, hold a deep emotional
Beginning their set bathed in a sea of purple and blue, the Antlers opened with the crystalline intro to their latest LP Familiars, “Palace.” The internet is rife with complaints about the sound quality at the Crystal Ballroom, but that night there were no qualms whatsoever.
The delicate pieces sounded full, but still intimate and emotional. When the volume got louder (which it did to a deafening level during the Hospice track “Kettering”) the Antlers managed it well, keeping their combination of horns, jazzy percussion, moody keyboards and deliberate guitar playing flowing seamlessly together in sync.
The airiness of the Crystal Ballroom matched well with their music, giving the in struments plenty of space to fill and resonate.
Most impressive during their set were the new takes on old songs, specifically when they performed “Putting the Dog to Sleep” from Burst Apart, and closer “Epilogue” from Hospice.
Before the recording and production of 2014’s Familiars, the Antlers had yet to experiment with the jazzy, blues-inspired indie rock they played that night, and thus did not write or perform their older songs with the aforementioned horns.
However, the Antlers performed these songs with the same emotional intensity but with new instrumentation, providing a whole new perspective or an update to their older music. For an Antlers super fan, it was an incredibly surreal and beautiful experience.