Written by: Shayna Chabrow
Photography by: Caitlin Webb
The Durham, North Carolina duo known as Sylvan Esso sold out two nights at the Crystal Ballroom and kicked off night 1 with a fully-powered and highly-energized performance.
Nicholas Sanborn warmed up his synthesizer to the crackling sounds of “Sound,” the opening track off their latest album What Now. Amelia Randall Meath slowly walked onto the stage and sang softly to the welcoming crowd. They then pumped everything up to the next level and went into the danceable “Dreamy Bruises” off their critically acclaimed, self-titled debut album. The claps providing the percussion in the song were now coming from the audience and the room was roused with the band’s vibrance.
The light spectacle that accompanied Sylvan Esso’s sound took their music to majestic heights. The colorful lights flickered to each beat and emphasized each of their movements. Meath’s dance moves impressed as she maneuvered her arms and legs like jello and jumped her small frame high above the crowd. She was all smiles as she displayed her raw power and talent. She’s an inspiring example of someone whose unafraid to be completely, 100% themselves, flying her long armpit hair high as she reached her arms towards the sky.
One of Sylvan Esso’s latest singles “Kick Jump Twist” was met with a frenzied response as a dancing wave of people ensued and sweat began to drip from head to toe. A remarkable part of the evening, where everyone’s energy audibly connected together, came when the synth in the beginning of “H.S.K.T.” started and before Heath even began to sing, the pounding of dancing feet grew louder and louder. When Sanborn dropped to a heavier beat, the crowd lost their inhibitions and grooved as hard as they could.
Before starting “Wolf,” Heath howled into the chandelier hanging from the venue and the crowd responded to her call. The popular “Coffee” and “Uncatina” were slow burning songs that kept the room warm as the intense fire of their performance calmed down and “Hey Mami” produced a childlike, audience choir. But, Sylvan Esso couldn’t leave the stage on such a relaxed level. They closed their set with “Radio” and brought the vitality back into everyone’s feet before returning for their encore to play “Rewind” and “Play It Right.” What’s endearing about the duo’s performance is not only are they so sincerely grateful for their fans, but they also clearly enjoy what they do together on stage night after night and that night, Portland clearly enjoyed it as well.