Darlingside at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Boston-based quartet Darlingside bring their unique alt-folk blend of music to the 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire before embarking on a brief European tour.
Darlingside are at their best when they are upbeat and reminiscent of a jaunty Bon Iver. Otherwise, their reflective dystopian alt-folk is undoubtedly alluring but not marketable. Is this a negative? In their more meditative moments they are experts in their craft and able to produce beautifully emotive music, but it has to be said that this is not for everyone. With harmonies to rival The Beach Boys, it’s unfortunate that this group is lacking in a showman. The four-piece sound exquisite and the evening’s performance is flawless in terms of musical prowess but, ultimately, they cater to a niche market. Appreciated predominantly by those who have followed them since 2009, it’s a shame Darlingside aren’t more widely recognised. That said, they don’t seem the type to sell out and release something overtly commercial and it’s somewhat refreshing to see a band doing what they want to do and playing what they want to play. Their overt mastery of a multitude of acoustic instruments is worth the investment of the audience’s time. Eschaton is a beautifully performed piece evoking a sense of reflection, whereas both Whippoorwill and Futures stoke the fire and serve as some of the more upbeat tracks of the night.
The crowd are issued a sense of community, with the band members singing around a single microphone, allowing their close collaborative relationships to radiate out. The intimate venue only enhances this. The musicians’ closeness is further revealed by the stories and introductions of the group members peppered throughout the set, including tales of mismanaged power showers, marmalade and a lack of understanding of the venue name. Darlingside recount that they have toured the UK more than anywhere else in the world and that it is starting to feel like home, which resonates with the audience.
In a world overly populated by commercial music and repetitive sounds, Darlingside should be acknowledged and praised for both their original perspectives and their refusal to follow the crowd. If what you’re searching for is thought-provoking and reflective music, then simply look no further.
Photos: Nick Bennett
For further information and future events visit Darlingside’s website here.
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