You know it’s going to be an interesting show when members of the audience start shushing each other during the support act; fans of The Antlers are a diverse bunch, but what they have in common a connection to the Brooklyn trio’s unique brand of indie rock which means they take the show seriously. Having been a fan since their 2009 concept album Hospice destroyed me emotionally, the chance to catch the band performing at Belgrave Music Hall as the final stop on their tour to promote their fifth studio album was the fulfilment of a five year long dream.
The Antlers are one of those rare bands who manage to sound every bit as brilliant live as they do in a studio – surely a sign of true talent – and it’s only once you’re presented with their intricate stage set-up that you can really appreciate how much work and thought goes into every part of their process. Over the course of their mammoth two hour set comprised of songs from their last three studio albums there was an eerie yet pleasant calm amongst the audience, every member clearly entranced by the band’s experimental orchestra style and vocalist Peter Silberman’s otherworldly lyrics.
As for standouts, it’s hard to say with a set list so perfectly pitched where the songs bleed seamlessly into each other, but hearing the devastatingly beautiful ‘Kettering’ performed in such an intimate setting was truly magnificent and probably the closest to a religious experience I’ll ever get. Honourable mentions go to the ethereal ‘Doppelganger’, reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s iconic ‘Wish You Were Here’ and the near-anthemic, ‘I Don’t Want Love’, performed with a certain rawness that can’t quite be captured on record.
Incidentally: Silberman isn’t one for conversing with the crowd, pausing between songs only to mumble thanks. However he breaks his relative silence during the encore to deliver a moving thanks to everyone involved in their European tour and comment on how quiet and respectful the audience has been, before diving into a heart-breaking rendition of Hospice closer ‘Epilogue’.
Watching a band as emotionally charged as The Antlers in such an intimate setting is a rare treat, and although there has been little doubt that Familiars cements them as important players on the indie rock scene, if anyone needed further confirmation, let their live credentials be it.
photos: marc lemoine, shervin lainez