Midlake Exorcise Their Ghosts Onstage at Mercury Lounge

November 7th, 2013

Midlake – Mercury Lounge – November 6, 2013

As Midlake made their long-awaited return to New York City, playing a sold-out show at the Mercury Lounge last night, they seemed to be surrounded by ghosts. Projected lights and the shadows between them crawled the walls and ceiling like colorful specters from the past. It was a fitting visual for the Denton, Texas, band: their music an evocative and haunting rock and roll, and their recent history—frontman Tim Smith leaving the band—a constant presence in the room. But the sextet embraced the spirits, opening with a pretty instrumental introduction to “Young Bride” off of their well-loved The Trials of Van Occupanther album. Bass, keys and guitars formed the crisp sound of winter as blue lights backlit the band. They stayed on theme, following with an expansive and gorgeous version of “We Gathered in Spring.”

Of course, this new version of Midlake has a new album, released just this past Tuesday, and they quickly dipped into the fresh material starting with the title track, “Antiphon.” Here the band showed off their collective spirit with four-part harmonies and an everyone-plays-at-once lushness. Overall, the new stuff was just as weird and wonderful as the old—psychedelic, gothic and fiery.

The rest of the set chased the ghosts around the stage with songs off all of their albums. Highlights included the title track off The Courage of Others, with flute flapping around a crunchy guitar, and a high-energy new song driven by punchy drums and poltergeist strobe lights. Midlake ended the set much as they began, with a powerful one-two punch of tunes off Occupanther, appropriately singing on the title track: “Sometimes I want to go home and stay out of sight for a long time.” As they have in the past, present-day Midlake finished with “Head Home,” with plenty of electric guitar to evoke and exorcise the ghosts of their past. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno |