The sold-out house screams as the stage goes dark, then holds its breath in anticipation as a lone figure walks out to a console. Slowly, deliberately, he breathes life into the rig and electronic melodies begin to pulse through the crowd. His expertly crafted build gives you chills, makes your hair stand on end. Then, the drop. Sylvan Esso explodes onto the stage as another figure emerges from a cathedral of light. Her voice sends a wave through the crowd. Her dancing makes you want to dance too, and frees your mind from everything but the duo on stage.
This was the scene at Bogarts as vocal wave phenomenon Sylvan Esso took Short Vine on a driving yet ethereal pop journey. The pair hit Cincinnati the night of September 21st on their What Now tour, supporting their new sophomore album of the same name. And this new album is no sophomore slump: you might recognize singles like “Radio” and “Kick Jump Twist,” and the entire venue joined in the with chorus, “I was gonna Die Young.”
Sylvan Esso is a band that formed somewhat by accident. Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn crossed paths at a small venue in 2012 in their earlier projects. Meath asked Sanborn to remix a song she played with her former trio, Mountain Man, called Play It Right. When the mixing was done, both felt an underlying artistic bond. In 2013, they met up again and the project was born. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2014 to much critical and popular love. What Now has only expanded on that; they’ve toured the new album in the US since May, and will make their way abroad in November.
Touring with them was Helado Negro. The Brooklyn-based songwriter uses live and electronic instruments, found sounds, his Latino heritage, and his personal struggles and changes to craft a meaningful performance. He’s touring to support his latest album, Private Energy, released in 2016.
Both acts were intimate yet dazzling, with pop-fueled energy and lyrical depth. They’ll leave a unique mark on a storied venue and on the entire city, and you can find them both here on INHAILER.