LIVE: Darlingside Charms Albany at The Egg 12/7/2019

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Darlingside, an indie-folk quartet hailing from Boston, graced the stage of The Egg’s Swyer Theatre in Albany, New York on December 7th. Downtown Albany was bustling on this chilly December evening, between families attending the concurrent performance of the Nutcracker, and the highly anticipated tour of international superstar, Celine Dion. Despite these significant draws, Darlingside’s Don Mitchell (guitar, banjo), Auyon Mukharji (mandolin, violin), Harris Paseltiner (guitar, cello), and David Senft (bass, kick drum) have decidedly grown a dedicated and enthusiastic fan base in the Capital Region, performing to an energetic and packed room. The band’s eager audience cheered them on the stage of this intimate 450-person theater for a show that has come to be somewhat of an annual tradition, with Darlingside having December tour dates at The Egg for three out of the past four years.

Opening with the title track from their most recent album, Extralife (2018), Darlingside wasted no time in demonstrating their breadth of talent. This song incorporated hints of experimental synth, coupled with shared roots as classical performers, to create something truly unique and otherworldly. The set that followed was a dreamy mix of tunes primarily from albums Extralife and Birds Say (2015),of which the audience appeared most familiar. Excited applause erupted at the first chords of both “White Horses,” and “My Gal, My Guy,” which are staples in the band’s repertoire. Perhaps thoughtfully curated, a number of songs from the set list were coupled by album. This allowed the listener to experience the impressive continuity and narrative with which Darlingside delivers their music.

Darlingside (The Egg, January 2019)
Photo by Jim Gilbert

Sprinkled in were numbers from EPs, Whippoorwill (2016), and Look Up & Fly Away (2019); the latter of which is comprised of songs that, though not featured on their latest album, found a home together much in the way of the Island of Misfit Toys, as Senft remarked. The audience was captivated by the imaginative lyrics, infectious melodies, and beautifully blended vocal harmonies from pieces, “Whippoorwill, “Clay & Cast Iron,” and, “Bright as the Day.” Triumphant chord progressions in, “Go Back,” and “The Ancestor,” gave way to a frisson of thrill. At one point, the band members decided to test the acoustics of Sawyer Theatre, descending the stage to play a completely unplugged rendition of the hopeful ballad, “Heart Again.” The quartet, by and large, sang as a collective, huddled comfortably together around a cluster of condenser microphones, surrounded by an elaborate assortment of instruments, reminiscent of days in which studio recording was completed in a single take.

Transcending idyllic lyrics and skillful instrumentals are the comfort and ease of a Darlingside performance, which is distilled to the audience through witty charm and relatable banter, making for unique and memorable shows. Mukharji provided hilarious anecdotes about an excursion the members took to a rest stop McDonalds on their journey to Albany that day. He continued to reference this story at timely junctures, which lent to the creation of an inside joke with the audience; characteristic of a house show put on in an old friend’s living room. In that way, Darlingside has certainly found a home away from home in Albany.

Darlingside (photo: Stan Johnson)
Darlingside (SPAC, Summer 2018)
Photo by Stan Johnson)

It is safe to say that we will continue to see great things from Darlingside. The band looks forward to the release of a new album, anticipated in the fall of 2020, and intends to hold true to their annual return to Albany next December. The foursome put on an incredibly special performance for their final show of the year, and the decade. It was apparent that the love and appreciation was mutual among the band and attendees, as Darlingside was called to encore, bidding farewell to the audience with emotionally charged, “The God of Loss.”

Yes, we will leave here without a trace

Take a new name and an old shape

I’ll be no outlaw, no renegade

Just your faithful god of loss

Set list:
Extralife – Extralife; Singularity – Extralife; Go Back – Birds Say; White Horses – Birds Say; Bright As Day – Look UP & Fly Away; Heart Again – Look Up & Fly Away; Whippoorwill — Whippoorwill; Blow the House Down — Whippoorwill.

INTERMISSION

The Ancestor – Birds Say; Orion — Extralife; Hold Your Head Up High – Extralife; Clay and Cast Iron – Birds Say; In the Morning – EP 1; My Gal, My Guy – Birds Say; Lindisfarne – Extralife; Best of the Best of Times

Encore

The God of Loss – Birds Say

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