Thursday night’s performance began like they all have for Merrill Garbus, with the terminally expressive songwriter looping thuds and clacks of her floor tom and snare to create the backbone of a song. What is different is everything else: She is now joined by four friends on stage, making the looping more customary than necessary, and instead of being crammed in a loft or a basement, or opening for Dirty Projectors, she is headlining venues for more than 1,000 people. The scale is no accident. It matches her growth as a musician. Sylvan Esso are just starting their journey, though you wouldn’t have guessed it based on the reception they received as an opener. The North Carolina-based duo, who combine chalky, folk-influenced vocal melodies with exuberant electronic beats (Amelia Meath is from Mountain Man and Nick Sanborn from Megafaun, both acts with folky roots), weren’t afraid to be goofy, smile and entertain. The fun they had was infectious, and though their songs are solid enough to enjoy on their own, Sylvan Esso could likely skate by on charm without them.
tUnE-yArDs + Sylvan Esso @ The Fonda Theatre, June 5, 2014
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