After releasing their fifth album Familiars earlier in the year, The Antlers came all the way from America to the East End of London to perform to a packed Hackney Empire on a dark, cold October evening. The elegance of the venue and the moody lighting of one of London’s most characteristic buildings really suited what The Antlers had in store for the audience.
First up, before The Antlers appeared, was the first and only support of the night. Marika Hackman took to the stage accompanied only by her guitar, and instantly got the crowd’s attention. As the venue began to fill, it became clear that she had some popularity amongst The Antlers’ fans. Her stunning voice was perhaps a little too mellow to get the audience pumped up and prepared for the headliner on this Friday night, but she has massive potential to excel in the right environment.
As the headliners came onto the stage and slowly built up the ambient atmosphere of the room, it only took a couple of minutes before the solo trumpet on opener ‘Palace’ soared over the audience, hypnotising them to joining the band’s world. Most of The Antlers’ show focused on their latest record, which is a great one, but in retrospect the set list could have been mixed up with more of their older tracks too. But, artists always reasons to why they have chosen particular songs to perform, just like how they order each track on an album.
Part-way through their set, which was laced with the vibes of an Pink Floyd, came the quietly stunning ‘Parade’; standing out as a highlight with the warm tones of the horns adding to the luxuriant sound.
In contrast, ‘Putting The Dog To Sleep’, perhaps one of their most anthemic compositions, falls strangely monotonous, making it feel almost as if vocalist Silberman has grown tired of his better known songs, which is unfortunate as these are the songs fans will always remember and want to hear live. Hopefully, this was a rare one-off.
Mercifully, the widely anticipated encore ‘Epilogue’ revives the show, with the hushed keyboards and alluring vocals capturing the shattering impact of Hospice before reaching for the skies with an ear-splittingly loud finale.
As with many great bands, they were completely entranced and enthralled by their own music, however it was a shame there was very little communication between the band and the audience during their 90 minute set. It was a bit like they were having their own party onstage and hadn’t invited anyone else. To some, it may feel like they are not interested in being there for the fans, but more so themselves. Then, on the other hand, it fits in with their hypnotic and captivating melodies. Great musicians, but some may say there have been more impressive performances.