Tag Archives: Megafaun


Sylvan Esso Amaze Terminal 5 with a Dazzling Show

January 26th, 2015

Sylvan Esso – Terminal 5 – January 23, 2015

Sylvan Esso – Terminal 5 – January 23, 2015
Having been on the wrong coasts at the wrong time, I missed seeing Sylvan Esso live all of last year, which was a major downer since their self-titled album was one of my favorites from 2014. I’d been a fan of Amelia Meath from her time with Mountain Man, and I’d seen Nick Sanborn perform with Megafaun. But what they create as a pair far exceeded anything I could have imagined and fueled many a late summer night—pairing simple but dang catchy synths with Meath’s vocal dance and bounce from beat to beat. This past Friday night at a sold-out Terminal 5, I rectified last year’s elusion.

Ensconced in darkness, Meath and Sanborn descended onstage with minimal equipment, only the synth station and microphones. Barreling into “Could I Be,” the sound gave out midway to the surprise of the duo. Not to miss a beat, Sanborn stated, “This has never happened before.” Those in the crowd weren’t worried as the band quickly took it back to the top before Meath playfully announced, “Once more with feeling.” The pint-size singer in platform shoes commanded the stage with intricate dance moves that could give Robyn
a run for her money. I’m not sure if it was the java scent stuck on my clothes from an earlier Cafe Grumpy run, but I was abuzz for “Coffee” and so were the fans cascading to the lyrics “get up, get down.”

The hostess of the night led the crowd in pre-howls on “Wolf” as Sanborn infused pulsating beats. Not stopping there, he delivered a heavy helping of drum and bass for “H.S.K.T.” Then, after a quick exit, Sylvan Esso returned to encore with a new song that they joked would be on a future album, Bangers with an s. Take that, Miley Cyrus. Meath called “Come Down,” the finale, a “slow one” before crooning to a packed Terminal 5, still reeling from the high-energy show. As folks filed downstairs, I heard multiple proclamations of “best show ever” and “aren’t they the beeest?” Needless to say, everyone was thoroughly entertained. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com


Hiss Golden Messenger Make a Connection at Rough Trade NYC

September 19th, 2014

Hiss Golden Messenger – Rough Trade NYC – September 18, 2014

Hiss Golden Messenger - Rough Trade NYC - September 18, 2014
Raw seems to be everyone’s go-to word to describe music that’s innately soulful, so much so that it can sometimes seem a little overdone. I’ve always taken it to define the stuff of pure heart, feelings berthed there spilling right out, largely unfiltered by the brain, the great rationalization of our abstract and unruly emotions. There are few people who sing this stuff better than MC Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger. It’s not just evident in his compositions’ great emotional landscapes, but also you can see physical evidence of it as he performs. When he sings loud, he leans back as if the feelings coming out cause recoil like when firing a gun. Sometimes he’ll squint a little, further proof of the cocktail of feelings that first berthed the music. And all of that was on display last night at Rough Trade NYC, a perfect setting for an intimate performer.

When Hiss Golden Messenger last came to town, it was just MC Taylor and an acoustic guitar. This time, though, he was backed by a full band, including longtime collaborator Scott Hirsch and talented Megafaun multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook. With projects largely the vision of one musician, backing bands can seem a little out of step or merely following the lead of the group’s visionary. But that’s not the case with Hiss Golden Messenger, which speaks both to the band’s pure talent and their ability to feel out Taylor’s vision. “We’re going to start the dancing portion of this set,” said the frontman, somewhat tongue in cheek as he introduced “Blue Country Mystic.” The song had an irresistible group sound to it fleshed out with a full band, complete with collective rhythmic pauses, swooning baritone saxophone lines from Matt Douglas and some Cook wizardry on the keyboards.

“Lucia,” off the latest release, Lateness of Dancers, showcased the Hiss Golden Messenger’s harmonizing prowess, including some backup vocals from guest Alexandra Sauser-Monnig. The band’s encore took them out into the audience to play an acoustic rendition of “Drum,” a song that first appeared on the lo-fi Bad Debt and again on their latest release. The audience was encouraged to sing along to the song’s chorus: “Take the good news and carry it away/ Take the good news and spirit it away.” And without much coaching, fans beautifully filled out the harmonies. As adeptly as this band fulfills Taylor’s vision, there just might be something about his music so fundamental that it’s felt by everyone—and damn easy to sing along to. After the show, in what now seems to be standard protocol at Rough Trade NYC, the band hung around to talk to concertogers. The band-fan connection is strong with Hiss Golden Messenger, and it’s a beautiful thing. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com


Sylvan Esso Celebrate New Release Tonight at Mercury Lounge

July 17th, 2013

A chance meeting three years ago led to Mountain Man vocalist Amelia Meath and Megafaun multi-instrumentalist Nick Sanborn teaming up to form the duo Sylvan Esso. Their debut, a 12″, “Hey Mami”/”Play It Right” (stream it below), just came out yesterday on Trekky Records. It features two A-sides with an a cappella and instrumental version of each tune. Stereogum calls the single “the perfect synthesis of both groups’ sound—folksy crooning and layered harmonies from Meath and Sanborn’s crunchy synths that both bounce and stutter.” And Sylvan Esso celebrate its release tonight at Mercury Lounge.


Sharon Van Etten and Friends Play Town Hall Tomorrow Night

November 14th, 2012

Like many before her, Sharon Van Etten came to New York City from New Jersey in order to make music. And despite her East Coast upbringing, Van Etten sings of Middle American—universal, even—themes, but she does so in her uniquely powerful voice. The talented singer-songwriter has put out three folkie albums, including this year’s acclaimed Tramp, which Rolling Stone says “plays like a female version of Beck’s Sea Change.” The album was a bit of an all-star affair, with appearances by the National’s Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and a host of others. And when Van Etten (above, doing “Give Out” for Minnesota Public Radio) plays Town Hall tomorrow night, she’ll be joined by Aaron Dessner and Wasner, plus Thurston Moore, John Moloney, the Antlers’ Peter Silberman and Megafaun’s Brad Cook.


You Can’t Spell Megafaun Without F-U-N

September 26th, 2011

Megafaun – Mercury Lounge – September 24, 2011

When the weather is nice, a Saturday night on the Lower East Side can become a total zoo of car horns from backed-up intersections and sidewalks packed with people coming to and from wherever the most fun is being had. This past Saturday, with summer taking one of its last gasps before autumn fully settles in, the scene was particularly crazy. This made the sanctuary of music inside Mercury Lounge that much more special as Megafaun created an oasis of thoughtful songsmanship, soulful harmonies and plain old fun.

Celebrating the release of their self-titled album this week, the trio opened, as the LP does, with “Real Slow,” immediately demonstrating their appeal. On their own, Megafaun’s three members were each decent enough vocalists and musicians, but working in concert, the effect was multiplicative and magical. The set zigzagged through newer and older material sucking up the recycled-Americana influences of the Grateful Dead, the Band and Neil Young and exhaling them over a tight, bobbing audience. “Get Right” let loose a longish psych-jam that cycled on a grooving bass guitar. Even the between-song banter had the internal logic, clever lyricism and rhythm of a well-written song.

Opener Doug Paisley served as a buffer between the cacophony of the street scene and Megafaun’s midnight set. Like with all great singer-songwriters, his currency was in syllables, doling them out with miserly care through barely opened lips, wrapped in carefully picked acoustic guitar. Just steps from Houston, the peace of his set could have been anywhere else in the world but. —A. Stein