the antlers [2011]

Great American Music Hall
San Francisco, CA
31 May 2011

There’s a spot at the very back of The Great American Music Hall, up on the second floor, back to the wall. It’s kind of perfect. Not necessarily if you want to dance, of course, but for more mellow music, for music say filled with atmospheric keyboards, sharp percussion and soaring falsetto harmonies, the crow’s nest is exactly where you want to be.

And that’s where we were Tuesday night, perched high above The Antlers and their adoring fans. Touring off of their just-released album Burst Apart, the band surprisingly diverged from the norm, mixing quite a lot of older material in with the new.

The band also kept the audience on its toes by straying significantly from the recorded versions of their songs. Not uncommon for older catalog entries, but for songs released just weeks prior, it’s quite a bold move. “No Widows”, one of the strongest songs on the new album was transformed into something most resembling a calypso number. And yet, amazingly, it worked. Clearly, they thought this one through.

The recorded version of “Wake”, from their fantastic but devastating album Hospice, is a dark and haunting tale of a dying loved one. On this night, it burst forth into an epic rock anthem. It was literally awesome.

“Putting The Dog To Sleep” begins as a melodic and ethereal waltz, the ultimate prom slow dance song (or at least the kind of prom I would have wanted to attend, with lyrics like “Put your trust in me / I’m not gonna die alone”). But as with many Antlers songs, it built momentum, eventually exploding into a soaring wave of vocals and keyboards, filling the entire Hall. All the way to the crow’s nest.