The War on Drugs and Sebastian Blanck both seemed like an odd paring for the shows opening acts. Sebastian Blanck set was filled with a plethora of technical issues and the band and Sebastian Blanck both had a very uncomfortable stage presence. Maybe playing the Bowery was a bit to much pressure or it was just a very bad night either way the band never seemed to recover and get back into a groove and escape the tension they were creating. Sharon joined them on stage to sing their final song.
The War on Drugs had a retro Dylan/Petty thing going on . . . set against some psychedelic grooves. The singer did have some sparkly reverb soaked guitar melodies but the majority of the crowd seemed eager for them to finish their set and let Sharon begin.
Sharon Van Etten not only headlined the Bowery Ballroom but she sold it out. The bowery was pretty packed during The War on Drugs set but jammed packed like sardines when Sharon came on. She opened with material off Epic as the band blazed through five songs "A Crime," "Peace Signs," "Save Yourself," "One Day" and a powerful version of "Don't Do It."
The lovely Cat Martino added beautiful harmonies to Sharon's set as per usual but during this show she added a loop box and an effect processor to her arsenal which she added lush textures to the full band compositions. SVE was also accompanied by a live drummer, bassist and keyboardist. Brad Cook of Megafaun joined the group and sung nice background melodies on "Tornado."
Sharon was quite nervous during her entire set and was either talking with her parents who were seated in the balcony, or her cousin in the front row and other family members scattered in the club between songs. She cussed like a sailor and was telling odd stories though out the evening one about having bright red toothpaste so she can easily find any traces of it in the sink to clean it out in here pitch black bathroom. Her big show was a lot to take in I bet, she has been playing smaller venues on the circuit for years. I really enjoyed her odd and funny banter from time to time she even would throw in a heavy Jersey accent.
She ended her set with her beautiful tune "Love More," on which she plays the harmonium. She was joined on stage by The Antlers frontman Peter Silberman who added his lovely high voice to the mix (see video below). She played a few songs solo then brought the band back on stage for a R.E.M cover of "Strange Currencies," (see video below) which is the first time I've seen Sharon run freely on stage with a microphone in hand. She and the band and guests put on a really amazing show. NYC Taper recorded the event and has MP3's of the show to check out here.
SVE Set List:
Don't Do It
All I Can
The War on Drugs
Sebastian Blanck with Sharon Van Etten