Dark Dark Dark delivers jazzy Great Scott set
Emily Wells, The Novel Ideas shine as openers
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 08:10
Set the scene: in the back of a bar stands a small stage. The lights are low, and they give the brick walls and red leather barstools a warm tone. The names of bands that have played here are scribbled on most of the bricks. Five people and their instruments fill the small stage. The venue is Great Scott and the show is Dark Dark Dark, with openers Emily Wells and Boston locals, The Novel Ideas.
Dark Dark Dark had two hard acts to follow after solid performances from the two openers, but the band did well with its unique folk music. With its Eastern European and jazz influences, Dark Dark Dark stole the show back from Wells’ engaging performance. The band’s five members, most of whom played several instruments, sometimes had a hard time fitting on the stage, but they did not suffer because of it. They opened with “The Great Mistake,” combining mournful keys and trumpet with tight, impressive vocal harmonies. The audience loosely filled the stage room and stretched back into the bar, with the introspective style of Dark Dark Dark promoting thinking rather than dancing.
The venue is possibly the best you could get for this style of music, with the close proximity creating an intimate environment with the performers. The feel of the concert did suffer slightly from lack of abundant seating, however. Dark Dark Dark’s quiet music is better suited to moments of self−reflection and thought than to several hours of standing.
They are wonderful musicians regardless of the venue, and their mid−set performance of “Without You” was a great example of this. “Without you, I am a river, my love/Without you I lose what is good to the sea,” crooned frontwoman Nona Invie over a waltzing bass line and minimal, yet essential percussion that was overlain with both her voice and an accordian. With this, Dark Dark Dark managed to create a complex, yet minimal song of beauty. The audience had waned by the end of this headlining set, but those who stayed after were treated to several crowd pleasers off of the band’s first album, “Snow Magic” (2008).
The evening’s show began with an engaging performance by The Novel Ideas. Featuring a pedal steel guitar and trumpet among more standard fare, the group plays music that is more similar to folk in composition, but faster, with the twang from the pedal steel giving its music country and rock undertones. Although the crowd was small when they played, they seemed to be well received. The band ended its set with a cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Ragged Wood,” which was greatly appreciated by all.
The lovely Emily Wells came next, immediately grabbing the audience’s attention. She opened with a solo on the violin, looping multiple riffs of plucking and bowing over one other, before adding the combination of vocals and drums that created an atmospheric web of sound you could lose yourself in. Throughout her performance, she elegantly combined classical, gospel and electronic sounds, switching seamlessly between violin, keys and drums.
The Texan native further surprised the audience by bringing a special guest on stage: King Sage. With a hat emblazoned with the word “Sage” wearing a crown, the African rapper — who now lives in the United States — made a striking impression on stage. Wells laid down a beat and sang, trading off verses with King Sage, who free−styled in French. He left after one song and though his appearance was brief, he made quite an impression on the crowd.
One of Wells’ later songs began with melancholic gospel keys and vocals, and then used mixed electronic beats and see−sawing fiddle, to create a wonderfully complex love song. To end her set, Wells chose to do a cover of the classic “Fever,” using her unique voice to complement her music.
Overall, both of the bigger acts, Emily Wells and Dark Dark Dark, gave stellar performances in their own styles, though The Novel Ideas shone in their own right and showed the crowd what talent a posse of locals has to offer.