On An On @ Mercury Lounge, 2/6/13
On February 6th, the Chicago-Minneapolis band On An On performed their first ever New York City show at Mercury Lounge.
On An On is a band with a very special story. Late last year, the five-piece band Scattered Trees broke up only three weeks before they were scheduled to meet producer Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Super Furry Animals, Los Campesinos!) in the studio. Incidentally, three of those musicians did not change this plan; instead, they shifted their whole musical style from indie electro pop to indie rock, named their new band On An On, did a lot of quick but thoughtful writing and recording, and ended up with the masterful debut album, Give In, this past January.
The Mercury Lounge show that night felt like a special, exclusive introduction to what will be a much bigger event a few months from now. A visual kaleidoscope of tinsel, sparklers, stripes, and confetti covered the band, and their textured, emotional layers of song and lyricism covered everyone else. Drumlines grabbed attention, and eerily-beautiful, painfully honest lyrics from Nate Eiesland were sung in a way that felt like they were being sung for the first time. The distinct yet complementary songs rolled on and on effortlessly, with each one ending and gracefully rolling into the next. Ryne Estwing played the bass with such strength that his instrument functioned almost as a lead guitar at times. Alissa Ricci stood off to the side, her long hair draping over the keyboard, and she would peer out of it and sing her back-up vocals straight up into the air. At certain points, I wished I could have heard her better, but then songs like “Cops” featured her more. At one point, the band covered the Hot Chip song “Boy From School,” complete with orange maracas. It was a refreshing take on the song, but it didn’t seem like they needed that cover.
The last song, which absolutely killed me, was “Every Song.” While a lot of people just stood there stunned, the band simply thanked the audience, casually jumped offstage, and said hello to some friends. If this band can put together an album like Give In in such a short amount of time and pull off a flawless show like that one, they have an exciting musical career ahead of them.