When heading out to see The Antlers live for the first time this Sunday, I was hoping to get answers to two questions: 1) Could an added sensory experience make me love the band more than I already did? and 2) Would their expansive sound translate well live? Each of the band’s songs has enough texture to satisfy listeners through speakers, but the level of respect I have for artists who are able to pour so much into the production of their music on record and carry it to the stages every night is unsurpassed.
The Antlers proved at The Troubadour this weekend they are more than capable on both counts, answering my questions with a pair of resounding yes’s.
To start the second of two sold-out shows at The Troubadour, the Brooklyn-based trio took the stage to a jam-packed, semi-ventilated room, and to speak to the visual element, the stage didn’t need much; a few jellyfish-looking lighting installations illuminated, pulsed, and dimmed with the beat of the music, giving the audience a split-second warning to the change of the mood between songs.
Much of the night’s performance was dedicated to showcasing the new content off the band’s latest album, Familiars. The first two tracks coaxed the audience into the night with the new album’s more sedated tone, but the show was truly set off with a cult favorite, “Kettering,” from Hospice. As far as The Antlers’ emotional range goes, they have an uncanny ability to effortlessly blend poignance with brooding charm, and this song in particular delved into the deepest scope of sadness.
Perhaps it’s the band members’ comfort within the group or their years of experience, but communication on the stage was minimal; with the members moving from one song to the next without comment, the set moved quickly and felt finished too soon. Luckily, The Antlers returned to the stage for an encore, at which point the audience’s multiple cries for something, anything, from Burst Apart were properly addressed.
The band members barely needed to touch their instruments after the unmistakeable introductory keys of “I Don’t Want Love” as the audience began singing along loudly to the twisted love song — right up until Peter Silbermban’s unreal vocal bridge silenced everyone into a blissful awe.
The night closed out with the heartbreaking ballad “Putting the Dog to Sleep,” and the crowd was like putty in the palm of The Antlers’ hands within seconds of hearing the ethereal reverberating keys as they contrasted the bright twang of the track’s delayed guitar strums.
The Antlers’ long-awaited performance was stunning, and what felt short was, in fact, an hour-and-45-minute set in what will hopefully be the first of a long line of the band’s album-supporting Los Angeles shows.
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