Tag Archives: Elvis Perkins in Dearland


Elvis Perkins Celebrates an Album Milestone at Rough Trade NYC

October 23rd, 2017

Elvis Perkins – Rough Trade NYC – October 20, 2017

Family reunions can be planned or impromptu, times of joy and nostalgia or pain and remembrance, barbecues or funerals. Elvis Perkins’ music has always been a mix of melancholy and jubilance, and so it was perfect for a “reunion” on Friday night in Brooklyn at Rough Trade NYC. The appearance was one of two anniversary shows (the other in L.A.) celebrating the 10th anniversary of Perkins’ breakout album, Ash Wednesday. For the show he assembled most of the original musicians and more, musical cousins and brothers and sisters joining together once again to make music and share memories and maybe make some new ones as well.

Like the album—and, really, like most gatherings of old friends—the show began with its most powerful, emotional moment. “While You Were Sleeping” started, as it always has, with Perkins solo, singing, “Time flew, the phone rang/ There was a silence when the kitchen sang/ Its songs competed like kids for space/ We stared for hours in our maker’s face.” One by one the musicians came onstage and began playing, bass and drums and backup singers and then horns and a four-piece strings section, the family together again and a wave of emotion swelling inside the room. To me, the album was always one of the more poignant responses to 9/11, but its happiness-from-sadness energy resonated just as strongly on Friday. The full complement of strings seemed to generate much of the emotion, at times eerie or chilling or sobbing.

With the massive band and the range of feelings coming from the stage, the centerpiece was still Perkins’ songs—lyrics as poetic and meaningful as ever—like “It’s Only Me”: “The white noise falls away to reveal the perfect day/ Where roses bloomed out of thin air and music rose from down the buried stairs.” After closing with a penetrating version of “Good Friday,” Perkins introducing the full band, goodbyes imminent, they added an encore of “Doomsday” from the Elvis Perkins in Dearland album, an unplanned moment, perhaps not everyone knowing the song but happy to linger and enjoy one another’s company for just a bit longer. Like most reunions, the event felt all the more significant by the uncertainty of when we all might meet again. —A. Stein | @Neddyo





Elvis Perkins in New York City

December 2nd, 2009

Last time Elvis Perkins in Dearland was in town, back in March, the show somehow ended literally underground in the JMZ subway station across the street from Bowery Ballroom. A small group of musicians—members of Dearland and opener Himalayas (who also open Saturday’s show)—played unplugged with an equally small crowd clapping, dancing and singing along as the late-night MTA platform power washers gawked. It was a show that didn’t want to end.

Since then, I’ve seen Perkins and Co. play a surprising, pitch-perfect cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway” in the early-afternoon Tennessee sun at Bonnaroo and invite the 20-plus choir of the Shape Note Singers to join them onstage in a powerful moment at the Newport Folk Festival in August. Which is all a way of saying that it might be hard to predict what you’ll see when the band returns this weekend for gigs at Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg.

I can predict music that transcends Perkins’ unique backstory, plenty of material off of the terrific Elvis Perkins in Dearland, and the just-as-strong follow-up Doomsday EP, and, if we’re lucky, another chills-inducing version of one of the best songs ever written about 9/11, “While You Were Sleeping.” Check out Elvis Perkins in Dearland, above, playing “Shampoo” for Rolling Stone. And then see them live on Saturday at Music Hall of Williamsburg. (Friday’s show is sold out.) —A. Stein


Elvis Perkins in Dearland – The Bowery Ballroom – March 25, 2009

March 26th, 2009


Elvis Perkins has one of those voices. It’s some combination of Buddy Holly and Bob Dylan, and the better you can hear it, the more you’ll enjoy it. That was the case last night at The Bowery Ballroom. As the set continued, and the sound in the room coalesced around his vocals, the music bordered on irresistible. Perkins also has quite a voice in the other meaning of the word. His perspective is also a combination of Holly and Dylan: a joyful sneer. It takes a certain voice to sing, “Black is the color of a strangled rainbow,” as Perkins bellowed during the single “Shampoo,” off his sophomore self-titled effort.

But the opener—Kenny Wolleson’s whacked-out marching band, the Himalayas—really elevated the music. No fewer than 20 strong (mostly horns), they set the tone early, mashing good-times beats with my-brain-hurts soundscapes before marching into the crowd and up into the balcony. Various members of the collective later popped up in the Dearland set, punctuating the songwriting with commas, semicolons and plenty of exclamation points.

It’s always good to have one of those songs in your back pocket that gives you goose bumps from the first note ’til the (always-too-soon) end. Elvis Perkins in Dearland saved their hair-raiser for last: a gorgeous “While You Were Sleeping” with a trombone and some reeds to elevate it to that next level. Then, exiting concertgoers met up with Wolleson and Co., jamming in the streets, the music uncontained. A small crowd filed into the subway station, resonating horns against the innards of the city, until finally dissipating. —A. Stein