The Antlers – First Unitarian Church Philadelphia
Last Wednesday May 18, 2011 The Antlers performed live for the first time in Philadelphia after the release of their new album “Burst Apart”. This was my third concert from The Antlers, but the first in which the band appeared as the main event of the night. Previously, I saw them opening to The Editors and The National. The Brooklyn band selected the First Unitarian Church as their venue, this time at the seated Sanctuary part, which provided a unique ambiance to the night and certainly helped on the overall delivery of their music.
Little Scream from Montreal opened the night with a presentation full of issues, improvised performances and what I would describe as strong though overused and exaggerated vocals. The Antlers came right next, focusing their show in “Burst Apart” although delightful versions of some favorites from “Hospice” were also included, to the most part in their amazing encore.
The band opened with “I Don’t Want Love”, exactly the way their album starts and a perfect sequel to the songs in “Hospice”. From there they put an 8-piece set before the encore. Worth mentioning were a superb version of “Parentheses” that surpasses by far the recorded version. Also an amazing version of “Bear” from “Hospice”, and an extremely powerful one for “Putting the Dog to Sleep”, which is the way the band decided to close this first part.
In all honesty, this song and the power behind the lyrics and music could be easily used by others as their prime masterpiece and as a successful closing song. The Antlers repertoire, however, allow them to stop here temporarily, leaving the audience hungry for more.
Really no words to describe the quality of the 4-piece encore primarily focused in their 2009 album....
“I wish that I had known in that first minute we met, the unpayable debt that I owed you”... cried front man Peter Silberman at the beginning of a flawless version of “Kettering”. To this amazing song, “Rolled Together” and “Two” followed.
The night ended with “Wake”, also from “Hospice” where both the lyrics and the interpretation of the band made this, probably the most intense finish to a concert I have ever experienced. Seeing Silberman cry repeatedly “Don’t ever let anyone tell you, you deserve that” as loudly as he could, surrounded by strong guitars, drums and keyboards is simply an indescribable experience...
It is clear that The Antlers and their approach to music are not for everyone. If your expectations for music include pure happiness, smiley faces and wet dreams of what life should be, these guys are not for you. The Antlers music is powerful, way more than usual. It travels from low deep sounds, building strongly and in a very calculated manner to deliver continuous powerful punches to the audience. The intensity of the music exponentially grows with the raw lyrics, which submerge you into sadness, joy, anxiety and every emotional journey you can imagine.
Seeing The Antlers live is for sure an adventure that can catch you cold, finding yourself with tears in your eyes and feelings you were not necessarily ready to deliver on a Wednesday night. Trust me, I saw a lot of that this week.
I leave you with the set-list for the night and a clip from the show for "Putting the Dog to Sleep".
The Antlers – Set-list May 18, 2011
First Unitarian Church – Philadelphia
1 "I Don't Want Love"
2 "No Widows"
6 "Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out"
8 "Putting the Dog to Sleep"
10 "Rolled Together"