Double Show Review: Sharon Van Etten/ Allo Darlin’ @ The Mohawk 10/18
Saturday night was a busy night at The Mohawk for tunes, but one that worked out quite nicely for those interested in both main acts. Outside featured the emotional force of Sharon Van Etten, riding high off the release of her latest stunning album Are We There, which came out earlier this year. Inside had Allo Darlin’ doing the same—their new record, We Come From The Same Place, just released last week. The combination of these acts provided a nice balance of heavy and light to the night, both groups giving out their own take on catharsis.
Read more about how the night unfolded and see some stunning pictures from B.Gray after the jump.
The night, for me, began with Tiny Ruins, a three-piece band from New Zealand. I went into this opener without any prior knowledge of the group and I was very much so pleasantly surprised by Hollie Fullbrook’s powerfully delicate and slightly raspy vocals and her intricate songwriting. Frankly, this was a good appetizer for someone like Sharon Van Etten—Fullbrook’s songs were fueled mostly by folksy acoustic guitar and earthy drumbeats and subsidized with detailed narratives in the lyrics. For the most part, this had my attention, albeit as the group continued on, the slowness of the songs seemed to become a little too heavy for the crowd. Their attention began to wander as the leading lady shared each song’s back story: this made the band more personable, but it seemed like the crowd’s own volume from talking grew with each break in music and even began to bleed into the band’s set. The last song from the band ended with a little build off the slow moving set, which made me feel like the rest of the set could have used more of this kind of music from the band.
Then came Sharon and crew to much excitement from the crowd. If there’s one thing I took away from Saturday night’s showing, other than the killer performance, was that you’ll be hard pressed to find a front woman who is as genuine and dedicated to her fans as this lady. While her tunes may be melancholy and dark expressions of mood via brilliant songwriting, Van Etten isn’t anything but quirky and charming in between songs, providing gracious comments about her warm reception as well as brief anecdotes about how she had just feasted on BBQ before the show with her parents who were in town and at the show. She dedicated a few numbers to them, including a soon-to-be released B-Side that she explained they were disappointed didn’t make the album. If this wasn’t enough to win your heart, the set was laden with the beautiful songs from Are We There as well as spectacular hits from earlier albums.
While we weren’t treated to “Magic Chords” or “Serpents,” some of the best-received numbers were the newer songs, like “Break Me” and ever-heart wrenching “Your Love Is Killing Me.” Both of these were excellent in the live setting, the dichotomy of slow moving and fast chorus on “Break Me” giving the audience a chance to jam with the band and the intense build of the latter track becoming simply moving. Sharon’s voice is pure emotion—even pushed to its very brink it still is strong and drenched in beauty. Her band adds to the charm as well, as Sharon leaned into each one on several occasions with her guitar, they all leaned back, beaming, seemingly just happy to be playing music. It was a lovely set, the kind that makes you want to revisit the artist’s whole catalogue, especially her most recent album. To top this all off, she mentioned at the end of her set that she would be at the merch table to talk later, and was still talking to her fans an hour and a half after her set’s finish when I went to leave the Mohawk after Allo Darlin’s set. Don’t ever change, lady.
With the sad end of the outside set, we were able to venture inside The Mohawk to catch the other headlining act just as they were taking the stage. Allo Darlin,’ another band with a killer album released this year gave us a bit of a left turn for the evening—the bluesy folk of the earlier music exchanged for the jangly dance indie pop of Elizabeth Morris and company. While our legs were growing tired from standing at the other show, the band made sure to pump out enough energy for the crowd to revive themselves and dance through the whole set. We got to hear some of the new tunes from the album, like “Bright Eyes” and “We Come From The Same Place.” These two tracks were some of the best moments of the set to me; the dueling male/female vocals were especially sweet to hear live and that guitar riff that I’m still not over on “We Come From The Same Place” was everything I wanted to groove to. The band themselves had an endearing presence to match their indie pop; the bassist jumped up and down for a large part of the set, smiling out at the crowd, while Morris jammed hard with her ukulele in tow, bouncing around the stage to their music. This whole set was nothing but fun—the audience bopped along with the band and some even took to some serious shaking it as the night got later and the bar tabs higher.
All and all it was a wonderful night for music and showmanship at The Mohawk. Thanks to these groups for keeping it real and to everyone at the venue who helped make the evening sound great.