To say that The Antlers are a “sad” band is oversimplifying and false, although it’s understandable why the Brooklyn three-piece is so often referred to as such. Frontman Peter Silberman perhaps combatted this common misconception best, telling Pitchfork in June that the band’s frequent mentions of death, failed love and sorrow “can be inspiring and make you even more appreciative of life as you have it.” The best way to see the Antlers’ hidden joy though, I learned Saturday night, is to expeirence the band live, where its not uncommon to see spectactors smiling cheek to cheek as Silberman shares dark, painful songs on stage.
Before the night’s headlining act came Mr. Twin Sister, who play dream-pop heavier on the dream than the pop. The show started early – 7:45 p.m., on the dot – but by the end of the openers short set, Webster Hall’s floor and balconies were almost filled. General impressions of Mr. Twin Sister seemed positive, but it was clear that the night was about the Antlers.
Most of the Antlers selection of songs came from their newest release, “Familiars,” including lead single “Palace” to open, but the biggest reactions were to songs from 2009’s “Hospice.” Upon recognizing the opening notes of “Kettering” and the epic, swirling “Sylvia,” the audience burst into applause and cheers. Otherwise though, the crowd was tame and quiet, clearly engaged but not particularly forthcoming.
At most concerts, there is a direct correlation between loudness of applause and appreciation of the band, but here, the silence showed respect. As Silberman sang, it would have been almost rude to cheer, simply because of the emotive nature of his words. Instead, audience members chose to silently sway and let the lyrics soak in, hence the smiles and grins.
During the first song of the encore, “I Don’t Want Love,” every mention of the song title during the chorus was left hanging, and for a few brief moments the venue was silent as faces stared at stage simply taking in the words. Faces looked affected, some even stunned.
And it is stunning to see the Antlers live, both because of the soaring sounds and melodies the band creates but also because of the rawness and truth in their lyrics. Peter Silberman and Co. put it all on the table when they perform live. They perform for you, the face in the crowd, and you better be listening.
Article by: Brian Benton