Familiars is taken to impossible heights in the live arena.City: Bristol
Date: 27th October 2014 Brooklyn’s The Antlers are a wildly different outfit to that which released Hospice in 2009, widely regarded as one of the most affecting albums of the decade.
It’s been followed by 2011’s sombre but hopeful Burst Apart, the ethereal between-album EP Undersea and latest cut, Familiars. The setlist chosen for the current tour, promoting the latter release, is almost entirely made up of tracks from said album, showing a supreme confidence in the band’s most recent work, especially with such an esteemed list of older tracks to choose from. Sadly, there are still those who will yell “play something from Hospice!” two songs into the set, and the sighs meeting the heckle from onstage show a band reluctant to rest and rely on their adored back catalogue.
“Play something from Hospice!“
Familiars is a woozy trip of synth and brass, which is taken to a startlingly different place in the live arena, becoming ten times as epic. When tracks from the widely adored Hospice are littered into the set, though, they are changed up to fit this new style, and take the cutting sorrow of ‘Kettering’ to new, dreamy heights.
The set is (by frontman Peter Silberman’s admission alone – from the audience it sounds glorious as ever) plagued by Silberman’s waining voice, and before Burst Apart offering ‘I Don’t Want Love’, Silberman admits he might struggle to meet the song’s painfully high-noted finale. He manages it with seemingly no sweat though, and the subsequent applause is raucous.
The scattering of older songs amongst the Familiars-built skeleton of the set is well received, and seems more than a token gesture on the band’s part; they do believe Familiars is their best effort, but that brings no disdain for Hospice and co.
“The continuous progression and improvement of The Antlers is clearly evident”
‘Putting The Dog To Sleep’, Burst Apart‘s crushing final offering, is as stunning as it ever was, and the encore of ‘Epilogue’ leaves few dry eyes. The continuous progression and improvement of The Antlers is clearly evident, yet this effort on the band’s part doesn’t seem to have led them to bigger rooms than their last trip across the Atlantic.
Granted, The Antlers aren’t as cripplingly sad as they used to be, but drip feeding these moments into a dreamy, woozy set of new material provides a striking balance. If only the stunning progression of Silberman and co was being rewarded by bigger venues to match their never-ending ambition.
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Words by Will Richards | Photo by Shervin Lainez