Sir Sly w/ M O T H E R – Concert Review

Sir Sly w/ M O T H E R
Crystal Ballroom
08.08.14

IMG_8704The latest installment of 94/7’s I Saw Them When series brought Los Angeles band Sir Sly to the Crystal Ballroom, with Brooklyn-based M O T H E R in tow. The crowd was almost divided between the two, for reasons that will soon become apparent. Either way, at a dollar a piece, Crystal was very sold out.

Sir Sly has hit Portland numerous times before. The first time I saw them was when they opened for St. Lucia back in January (read the review here). Now, they have really honed their live show, and are worthy of headlining their own tours. The world is ready for them. According to the band, the last time they headlined in Portland, they sold about 30 tickets. This is far beyond that, and well deserved.

The night opened up with M O T H E R, a band from Brooklyn specializing in heavy beat filled, sometimes ethereal alt-rock. The sound was so specific, and it was hard to figure out where all these (excuse the term) fangirls found this unknown group, and what drew them to their music. It turns out that this Brooklyn-based group is fronted by Penn Badgley, a.k.a Dan Humphrey of Gossip Girl. Yes, around half the crowd was there because Gossip Girl. It’s a good thing M O T H E R was actually pretty good.

The band started out with a very ethereal sound. It was hard to get into at first, but the airy vocals and experimental backing was enough to keep me interested. A couple songs in was when it really started to get good. Laying over the celestial synths, the band started to place some heavy beats, guitar, and the wailing voice of Mr. Badgley into the mix, creating something that you could really move to. Though it took a while to get into, M O T H E R did not disappoint. Hopefully this will open Gossip Girl fans to a whole new level of musical appreciation.

Up to last night, I had seen the night’s headliner, Sir Sly, twice. First as an opener for St. Lucia, then as an opener for The 1975. Both those times, I was highly impressed with their music and presentation. Obviously enough to come back for a headline show. But this gig took what I thought I knew about the band to a whole new level of insane.

Honestly, Sir Sly put on possibly the best I Saw Them When show I’ve seen so far. From the lights, the movement, the sounds, and the interaction, Sir Sly came out with a very polished live show. One that is worthy of a lot more than the dollar spent.

The first thing that had me was their entrance. Each band member, up until the last three, came out one at a time, layering one more instrument into the mix, to create the intro to the first song, “Where I’m Going”. This worked extremely well, and even more so in fact due to the use of the lighting. Each member had a set of spotlights shining up on to them instead of down. In my opinion, this is really a genius thing. It looked impressive, and allowed me to take some great photos even in a darker setting.

Frontman of Sir Sly, Landon Jacobs, is really a natural born performer. The way he moves is just a wonder to watch. I’ve said it before, but when an artist really gets into their music, we really get into the music. Jacobs even went so far in his performance that by the end of the night, the mic stand was completely busted up. That’s a sign you went hard.

As far as Sir Sly’s music goes, all I can say is that their new album, You Haunt Me (due September 16th), is going to be gold (no pun intended). The band is beat heavy, very dark in a sense, synth filled, but also catchy in the way of any Top 40 song. It’s the kind of music with a lot of potential to go far, and judging from what I’ve seen and heard, will.

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