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Concert Review: The Antlers

Cassandra Zahran Cassandra Zahran Concert Review: The Antlers
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Last night, The Antlers delivered an extremely intimate set to the sold-out crowd at A&R Bar.

The four piece band is comprised of two keyboards, a guitar, drum kit and two trumpets– Yes, a horn section. Their ambient sound fed the crowd images of lustful and tortured souls, eluding into dream-like melodies and faded vocals. The melancholy band responded to the starting pleas of the crowd, opening with”Palace,” the first track off of the newly released album, Familiars. A twinkling keyboard melody slowly welcomed in the cooing harmony of the horns. The show built momentum from the start, the band ultimately feeding off of the crowds responsive nature and willingness to remain eyes-closed,  swaying freely to each rhythmic variation.  The set continued with tracks 3 and 4 of the album, opening the set with eighteen minutes of calm, dreamlike sounds Familiars so strongly confesses.

The bands breakthrough was credited to their 2009 album Hospice. An album that is heavily weighted with deep, rooted despair. Hospice doesn’t fail to leave listeners in tears, most especially after tracks “Bear” and “Kettering.” The band wasn’t always writing about heartbreaking story lines and failed romance. in 2007, In the Attic Over the Universe was hinted to be more playful and experimental, and Burst Apart, The Antlers began to develop their ethereal sounds that are seen in Familiars. With an album like Familiars, The Antlers’ themes and tone changed drastically- a more “happy” tear than anything else. By beginning the set with the three opening tracks of Familiars, the band was precedented on a more uplifting note, showcasing their new album to the sold out crowd.

Tracks from both Familiars and Hospice finished off the set, the band oscillating between records, the emotional integrity and passion only grew as the set did.  The stage was illuminated with two cages, a light bulb in each flashing colors of blue, white and purple in rhythm with the drum kit. Such a simplistic set was necessary for the simple beauty in each an every track. The Antlers closed their set, before the encore, with the last track on Familiars, “Refuge,” allowing the horn section to vibrate throughout the room. As I shut my eyes, I could feel myself in complete communion with the music, the lead vocals communicating with udder vulnerability and truth. The slow progression of “Refuge” allows listeners to experience the track at their comfort, each piece of the band contributing to a gently passionate sound.

The show closed with every bit of energy the band had left to muster, performing tracks “Dog” and “Don’t Want Love.” After a short brake, the emotionally exhausted audience welcomed the band back to the stage with bellowing screams complete with hands over their hearts and eyes. With immense gratitude, the next two songs were performed at an intensity that was not present in the beginning of the set. The vocals echoed louder, the drum kit pulsed like a heartbeat, and the trumpets sounded as if they were welcoming us to the gates of paradise. A show that will remain as one of my favorite of 2014. The Antlers performed a set complete with sensory experience, allowing each attendee to close their eyes, and envision a place of udder beauty, a perfect dream-like state different for each and every listener in the crowd.

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