Last July I was lucky enough to catch the last two minutes or so of The Antlers‘ Madfork 2.0 set. I was also unlucky in only catching the last two minutes of their set. Shortly thereafter, I listened to everything they had posted on their site, and just wasn’t as impressed as I had been a few days before. Yesterday, October 30th, 2009, Daytrotter posted their session with The Antlers, so I gave it a listen. Hooray for Daytrotter, because they managed to capture much of the magic I was witness to last summer. Being reassured that The Antlers were as amazing as I remembered, I looked up tour dates and discovered the band was in town that very night. The good people at Tell All Your Friends PR responded to my last-minute request, and I had the pleasure of attending The Antlers’ opening set at the Independent in San Francisco, CA.
Though the Daytrotter set is superb, nothing compares to seeing The Antlers play live. Peter Silberman (vocals/guitar), Darby Cicci (keys), and Michael Lerner (percussion) play off each other to create ever-expanding landscapes, filling every available space with sound. Silberman stands to the side, his vocals mixed down in the wash of sound, giving the impression of drowning or speaking from beyond. Lerner’s precision tows Silberman along, and Cicci attacks his instruments as though they need to be powered by his touch.
The songs in The Antlers’ set range from catchy and misleadingly upbeat (“Two”) to hopelessly beautiful (“Atrophy”), commonly employing the struggle of triumph and hope against a nagging sense of despair and defeat. What The Antlers syphon out of the room emotionally in the course of a set may never be replaced, but we must do our best to stanch the flow with tourniquets and transfusions.
(PARTIAL?) SET LIST: Bear, Sylvia, Atrophy, Two, Wake