Electro pop duo Sylvan Esso will be brought their traveling dance party to Surly Brewing Festival Field on Friday night. Though it rained on and off all day, the clouds parted for a beautiful sunset on the sold-out crowd.
Sarah Silverman said, “You can’t help what your earholes like”. My earholes like Sylvan Esso. I can’t explain why. I’m a 55-year-old deadhead, there is no reason I should like them. I only gave them a listen because one half of the duo, Nick Sanborn, was in a band I saw open for the Drive By Truckers a number of years ago. Megafaun, Sanborns band, had a jammy folk rock vibe and I thought that his new project would continue in a similar vein. When I listened to “Coffee”, I couldn’t believe that was the same guy. While the some of the lyrics were “folky”, the music was pure electo pop. But there was something about the groove infused beats that had me hooked, and when the bands management asked if we would be interested in covering them, I jumped at the opportunity.
I waited in line to get in, a lone Baby Boomer in a sea of GenXers and Millennials. There was a palpable excitement in the air, and as the sun broke through the clouds right before the band came on, the crowd became electrified.
Sanborn came out first, stage right, around 8:30 and immediately started laying down the beats. Amelia Meath, the other half of Sylvan Esso, came out on stage soon after. She was ready to dance, dressed in platform white sneakers and black leotard with a bare midriff.
Meath moves around the stage with all of the athleticism of an Olympic gymnast. Sanborn mans the sonic command center with the intensity of a starship capitan, occasionally throwing in a few dance moves of his own. The pair come off unpretentious and approachable, like they were with 5500 of their best friends. And apparently, they had friends in attendance, as Sanborn said he had grown up in the area.
It was fascinating to watch the damp Festival Field turned into an outdoor dance hall as 5500 people grooved with enthusiastic joy. Amelia’s vocal range is amazing and was highlighted on “Just Dancing” and “Wolf”. She had the audience firmly in her grasp as the sold-out crowd sang in unison to the chorus of “PARAD(w/m)E”, which was one of the highlights of the night. Meath had an amazing chemistry with the audience, and she obviously has chemistry with Sanborn as the exchanged romantic glances frequently throughout the night. They were obviously having a whole lotta fun up there.
Sylvan Esso left the sold-out crowd energized, and it will be hard to top this dynamic performance as the Surly Brewing Summer Concert series continues.