With a kick, jump, and a twist, Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn have done pretty well for themselves since their self-titled debut. Since then, the organic-meets-electronic duo has crafted subversive synth-pop with sophomore album What Now, gone back to basics with the Echo Mountain Sessions EP, and released one-off singles like “There Are Many Ways to Say I Love You” and “PARAD(w/m)E.” Yes, Sylvan Esso has been keeping very busy recording and touring, including their stop at The Anthem only a year after their two sold-out shows at 9:30 Club.
If only we could make our workout routine as exciting as Meath's. Good luck trying to keep up with her endless supply of high-kicks and dancing on stage to match any BPM, like the slow-but-smooth "Coffee" and the four-on-the-floor-heavy "Just Dancing." You could hear the slight rasps in her raw voice in ways you could never discern on their recorded tracks. She was poised and powerful in owning the stage, but she’s still as goofy and down-to-earth through her on-stage banter as ever.
Providing the other essential part of the equation was Nick Sanborn and his dutiful handling of the sounds. His compact, yet effective smorgasbord of knobs, levers, and buttons gave him full control over the off-kilter beats that the duo is so well-known for. A knob twist could isolate or accentuate a layer of the sound while his drum pad threw listeners unexpected curveballs on the rhythms that they know so well. He could never have as much freedom moving across the stage as Meath does, but you could tell from his passionate facial expressions and furious head-bobbing that he has a lot of fun manipulating sounds on stage. Just as impressive as their frenetic sound were the tender moments on What Now tracks Slack Jaw” and “Sound” that made The Anthem feel a lot more intimate than its near sold-out capacity would have you think. It’s clear that they are both still having a lot of fun on stage, and witnessing exuberant joy like Sylvan Esso displayed will always trump any elaborate stage show.
Opening for Sylvan Esso was Moses Sumney, who gave a solo performance using a guitar, keyboard, a loop pedal, and his amazingly emotive voice. Sumney’s debut album Aromanticism is out now on Jagjaguwar. (Listen to our podcast episode on Aromanticism here.)