The Antlers Head Up Frenchkiss Showcase at SXSW
To say that Frenchkiss Records has had a good year would be an understatement. While Passion Pit's debut LP 'Manners' might have been the label's biggest mainstream hit, the heart of this year's success undoubtedly comes from the Antlers. Their album 'Hospice,' a concept record about a hospice nurse's relationship with a patient, was one of 2009's most musically and emotionally powerful releases, and Friday night's Frenchkiss/mom + pop SXSW showcase in the backyard of the Galaxy Room was a fitting celebration.
Following sets from Frenchkiss labelmates Local Natives and Suckers, as well as mom + pop Tegan and Sara protégés An Horse, the Antlers took the stage at midnight, although the time was quickly forgotten once they started.
The group only got through five songs, which doesn't sound like much until you consider that more than half the tracks on the record clock in at more than five minutes. At the beginning and end of each song, guitarist and vocalist Peter Silberman, drummer Michael Lerner and keyboardist/effects guy Darby Cicci took time to build from delicate, glitchy electronics to huge, drawn-out chords that teetered on arena-rock territory. On top of these soundscapes was Silberman's falsetto yell, which isn't always perfect, but the stress in his voice is one of the most captivating aspects of their live sets.
While 'Hospice' does follow a storyline, most of the tracks stand fine on their own and out of sequence; this time it was 'Sylvia,' 'Bear,' 'Atrophy,' 'Two' and 'Wake.' Thirty minutes isn't much, especially for a band whose music seems to make time stop, so the Antlers had to compromise: When given the "let's wrap it up" signal after four songs,