Short and Sweet NYC

Stornoway @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, 5/6/13

When I think of contemporary acts that do folk well, Stornoway is one of the first to come to mind. It’s been two years since they last played NYC, and the time away has not been wasted. Having just celebrated their sophomore release, Tales From Terra Firma, it’s become quite apparent how they’ve matured as a band. They’ve also brought with them quite a bit of swagger.

Tales improves upon the live show quite nicely, with half of the fourteen song setlist originating from it. Highs and lows were hit upon with perfect amounts of flair. We saw unplugged acoustic songs done solo and as a group, which acted as set closer. An encore that can only be described as bombastic saw the members of the band return to stage one by one and lay into their instruments before playing old favorites “I Saw You Blink” and “Watching Birds.”

There were a lot of interesting sounds and instruments at play tonight. Stornoway plays as a four piece normally, but brought out two extra musicians on this tour, Rahul Satija, a violinist, and Tim Cronin, handling keys, trumpet and musical saw. The last item was a first for me to witness in a musical use, and along with the innovative use of ripped paper in a loop, instead of simply using samples kept me in a state of appreciative wonder.

Field Report is supporting Stornoway on this stretch of their westbound tour. The Wisconsin trio plays an atmospheric, emotional sort of alt rock that touches on your heartstrings. I found it odd that they were mostly void of percussion, only sparingly using a drum track. It’s a negative, but overall the guitar work, vocals and crowd banter were nice enough to keep me entertained.

[photos by Lina Shteyn]

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