Sylvan Esso @ Brudenell Social Club, 13/11
Singer Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn, who make up electronic pop duo Sylvan Esso, don’t look like pop superstars. Clad in simple skinny jeans and black t-shirts, Amelia’s reading ‘No Nukes!’, the duo didn’t walk onto stage in spectacular fashion as is expected with pop acts, confetti and blaring entrance music and all. Instead, the two surreptitiously walked onto stage and began to play their first song, ‘Could I Be’.
That’s exactly the reason why Brudenell Social Club, a small venue with lots of character, was the perfect venue for a Sylvan Esso gig. While the electronic pop duo boast a massive 1.4 million monthly listeners on Spotify, and their top 4 songs have all been played tens of millions of times, the duo have a knack for making their biggest-sounding songs feel surprisingly intimate. There were no barriers between the crowd and the stage, and as they played banger after banger, it really felt as though they were singing and dancing with the crowd.
Standouts included ‘Coffee’, a slow-burning, brooding electropop song which Meath sang full of emotion; ‘Play It Right’, a triumphant mid-tempo electronic track which closed the show; and ‘Radio’, easily one of their most recognisable songs with its repeated impassioned hook of “slave to the radio / wait til they forget to go”.
Electronic acts tend to get lost in translation from recordings to stage, falling flat in live settings, but Sylvan Esso managed to bring emotion, energy and flair to the intimate venue. Meath’s live vocal performances matched her studio recordings (and more) as she danced goofily to their songs while Sanborn jumped around his controls. It was definitely an impressive showing from the duo, and by the end of the night there wasn’t a single person in the crowd who could stop themselves from dancing along.