Active Child Packs Them In

June 8th, 2010

Active Child – Mercury Lounge – June 7, 2010

(Photo: Jared Levy)

(Photo: Jared Levy)

Early evening concerts draw attentive crowds. Before the booze-soaked desire to dance and an insatiable need to hear “Free Bird” sets in, musicians are often met with sober ears and a temperate audience. To succeed in this environment, focus and talent are essential. Undoubtedly, Active Child posses these characteristics, and, on Tuesday night, the group thoroughly impressed a captive audience for their New York City debut.

Like with an increasingly large number of indie bands, Active Child is one man’s music presented as a larger concept. The L.A.-based songwriter Pat Grossi is the group’s principal member, and he weaves instrumental samples with falsetto vocals to create hauntingly beautiful songs. Earlier this month, Active Child released their debut EP, Curtis Lane, to enthusiastic reviews, most notably Pitchfork’s “Rising” distinction. Seemingly as a result, the early show at Mercury Lounge drew a near capacity crowd. On the heels of a European tour with White Rabbits, Grossi, along with bassist Stratton Easter, played to fans, friends and family.

Early in the set, a group of Grossi’s aunts beamed and cheered for their nephew to the amusement of the crowd as Stratton mentioned, “This show would be pretty awkward without Aunt Sue.” Arguably, this was due to Active Child’s abundant use of a backing track for rhythm and accompaniment. Without the dynamics of a full band, it can be difficult to sustain collective interest. However, with such engrossing songs as “Wilderness” and “I’m in Your Church at Night,” the audience seemed transfixed rather than bored. Grossi steadily shifted from harp to keyboard to guitar, showing virtuosity and a flare for performance throughout the show. If Active Child continues to refine and expand their sound, they are sure to attract eager crowds late into the night. —Jared Levy

(Active Child plays Music Hall of Williamsburg with Islands on Sunday, June 27th.)