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The Antlers – Shephards Bush Empire

Shephards Bush Empire
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9.0 10 Excellent

Being the first time I’ve seen the Antlers live, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. The music on their debut full length concept album “Hospice” was, well, rather depressing to say the least, but incredibly moving and immersive – after a few listens it was hard to put down, like some bad habit that you know will do you harm in the long run. Their follow up “Burst Apart” followed some of the same trends as Hospice, but dropped the ‘concept’ mantle being more of a traditional album of singles.

So what about the live experience? This group of 20-somethings going on 45 ably led by the main protagonist Peter Silberman took to a stage adorned with nothing more than some simple lighting and a few bunches of white flowers, and welcomed the crowd with a simple ‘hello’ before launching into a wall of noise.

The song selection was a balanced mix of the more accessible tracks on Hospice and the best that Burst Apart has to offer, highlights being the relatively speaking ‘Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out’, which given the addition of the extra guitar to the usual threesome had real bite, ‘Rolled Together’ and ‘Putting the Dog to Sleep’, which built into a crescendo finishing up sounding like My Bloody Valentine.

Peter Silberman’s slightly affected vocals live are an absolute triumph. His falcetto voice adds real delicacy to the songs, and the mix was just about right so that his vocals could be heard above the occasional wall of distortion generated by the band – at times they were LOUD. On ‘Kettering’ the bands delicate side really came to the fore, the song starting with the delicate piano and Peter’s fragile delivery before building into a crescendo of epic proportions.

In between songs, the boys were surprisingly chirpy, in sharp contrast to the content of their lyrics, almost awkwardly so. Going from “How are you all doing, we’d love to go out with you, are you all free later” to a song about dogs dying is a peculiar and unexpected juxtaposition! The performance technically was immaculate, and incredibly mature given their young age. What was clear from listening to their music and seeing them live, it is clear that the potential within the band is something truly exciting – rarely seen in bands these days. They have a truly unique sound, and have intelligence on their side which will no doubt help them develop further.

Closing with “Putting the Dog to Sleep” completed a perfect delivery, culminating in the on stage flowers being distributed amongst the welcoming audience. Turning to face the audience, it was clear that most of the gig goers were in a trance like state, slowly swaying to the music as if in an anaesthetised state – it’s fair to say that with songs such as The Antlers have in their armoury, you are never going to see enthusiastic jumping around, but that’s not why we came.

A great gig and an experience I look forward to repeating in the near future – their next album should be something quite special.

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