Photo by Tyler Spinosa

Sylvan Esso is an indie-pop band consisting of Amelia Meath (singer) and Nick Sanborn (producer). The duo began creating music in Durham, N.C. in 2013 and returned to the North Carolina mountains Sept. 29 at the end of a tour following the release of their second album “What Now.”

Helado Negro, the opening musical act, started the night with a soothing, moody performance, mixing folky vocals with serene electronic instrumentation to create an atmosphere that was almost a little too relaxing. At one point the calm vocals and bass shaking the room started to gently rock me to sleep in my chair.

It didn’t put me to sleep because it was boring — I became so relaxed that I managed to almost fall asleep sitting up in a crowded concert environment that would normally put me on my guard.

Two dancers slowly glided along to the music on either side of the vocalist’s podium in head-to-toe sequined cloaks. I thought they were animatronic or something at first until I realized they were human beings. When their set was over, Helado Negro had to hold them by the hand and guide them off-stage because of the costumes.

The seats in the auditorium filled as people arrived to see the headliner, Sylvan Esso. Stragglers from the outer corridors meandered their way inside with beer and snacks they had acquired from the overpriced concession stands that lined the hallways. At last, Meath and Sanborn took the stage to thunderous applause. People of all shapes and sizes clotted together in the aisles and in the rows preparing to dance along to their favorite songs.

They opened with their track “Sound” which is an ethereal and echo-y track that begins with crackly instrumentals before the vocals come in. Throughout the night they played several more of their hits including, “Wolf,” “H.S.K.T.,” and “Coffee.” Meath’s stunning vocal performance complemented Sanborn’s smooth electronic tunes and the two forces combined in perfect harmony to create a true concert experience. Each song was even better than their prerecorded counterparts.

The light show provided a beautiful backdrop for Meath’s dance moves as she glided along to the songs and Sanborn bobbed his head to the beat. Six angled pillars that rose from the floor to the ceiling blasted multi-colored lights in sync with the instrumentation. Other colored spotlights would shift and change with each song and the different color schemes affected the vibe in the room.

A true mark of quality in musical artists is if their music is made better by a live performance, and Sylvan Esso meets that criteria. It was a great time and we even got a vinyl to commemorate the evening. Aside from the drunk couple that chose to stand directly in front of my fiancé and I as Sylvan Esso took the stage and the interesting meltdown we witnessed as a couple several rows ahead argued throughout the show, it was a fantastic concert.  

For more information go to their website here.