Summer Underground at Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market, located on 9th Avenue in Manhattan, is a veritable oasis of boho restaurants and shops that radiate urban chic. Recently, this trendy locale began a free Friday night concert series, aptly named “Chelsea Nights”, in partnership with Brooklyn-based indie label Paper Garden Records. Each weekend showcases a variety of up-and-coming musical artists for patrons to enjoy while digging into their farm-to-table entrees or browsing the goods at Anthropologie.
This week’s lead musical act was Summer Underground, an indie-folk duo comprised of musician/songwriters Grant Carey and Chrissy Sandman. Their economical set of six songs featured Carey on guitar and Sandman on keyboard (plus a bass player for this performance), with both sharing lead vocals and harmonies. Most of the material was from their new full-length LP Honeycomb, with a couple of selections added in from their previous EP, Arrival. What they chose to play during last night’s performance was pleasant enough; none of it would have sounded out of place on a Zach Braff movie soundtrack. However, that’s not how their music is represented on their releases. The arrangements presented during their live performance were significantly sparser and pared down compared with the fleshier compositions on their recordings (which include drum, horn and percussion instrumentation). While staging limitations could easily have been an understandable consideration for this particular venue, such a broad aural gap is disconcerting.
There’s no doubt that Carey and Sandman are legitimate in their musicality. Sandman’s voice holds some tonal similarities to Regina Spektor’s, and provides a pleasing counterpart to Carey’s. They navigate complex harmonies and mid-tune time changes with skill, and clearly relish their authenticity. It would be exciting to hear them step outside their slow tempo comfort zone and experiment more with accelerated material. Lyrically, they challenge the listener to follow the threads of their narratives with plenty of clever phrasings and esoteric references, but at times this effort comes across less as profound musing and more as consciously labored affectation.
Summer Underground is a duo with artsy appeal that holds potential for a larger presence on the buzzy Brooklyn indie scene, provided they can merge the musical disparity between their recorded identity and their live performance.
Photos: Mariana Howard
For further information about Summer Underground and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Honeycomb here: