REVIEW – Sylvan Esso


Photo by Melissa Miller

I’d like to preface this review with a disclaimer; If you have ever read one of my reviews you understand that I can tend to fanboy out. This review will not be an exception. But I don’t want that to discredit what I experienced tonight, because tonight was simply amazing. The semi-Milwaukee band played their 2nd sold out, back to back Pabst show tonight and from what I was a part of I see no reason why the synth-pop electric duo would not sell out 1,000 more shows here. Hyperbole aside, tonight’s show was epic, it was sexy, and it was filled with a whole lot of dancing.

The Grammy-nominated duo came out tonight, clearly high off their show from last night (non-drug high intended), and decided to give the Pabst Theater a beautiful and exciting experience. The now married couple of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn opened to a welcoming crowd with their track “Sound”. As this melodic beast played it was clear that this audience was here for the long haul of what the electro-pop duo was here to display. With entrancing lights and equally as entrancing dancing that Meath provided the audience was instantly eating out of the palm of their hands.

As the band warmed up the crowd with what was to come, they eased into the extraordinarily catchy “Dreamy Business”, and from that point forward there was no stopping the duo. They proceeded to drop hit after hit. Even though only having two albums this crowd considered them hits as we all parad(w/m)e(d) and danced with Meath and Sandborn with their symphonic and light stricken show. Then Sandborn dropped “Signal” off their latest album What Now and the crowd truly started feeling the vibe.

After “Signal” Sandborn addressed his attentive audience with a welcome greeting stating that how blessed the two were to be playing at the Pabst, shortly before going into their critically acclaimed song “Die Young”. From this point on it no longer felt like a regular ho-hum show on their tour but a specifically catered setlist that screamed: “these are our people and we are going to give them what they want”. And oh man, did they give us what we wanted. Following one hit up with the next of “Kick Jump Twist”, there wasn’t one person surrounding me without shaking hips and waving their hands in the air.

I always expect to see a Pabst show played to its ultimate capability, but to see it come from just two people was something else. The way that Amelia Meath belted out her songs was almost heartbreaking due to the amount of love she showed the screaming Milwaukee crowd. She went on to play some lower key songs such as “Jamie’s Song”,  “The Glow”, and “Just Dancing”, but didn’t lose the crowd for one moment on a packed Sunday night.

As the show proceeded on the crowd got a little hotter, in all the right ways, and added a steaminess to a show that already was downright sexy. “Coffee” was next and we all lost it in the warm brew of sonic dissonance which brought everyone even that much closer. The interaction that Meath displayed was welcoming to the point of her knowing that these were her people even though the duo could not claim to be from Milwaukee. Even though their roots stemmed from North Caroline, it was the kindling of their relationship that happened at Bay View’s own Cactus Club that makes this Milwaukee crowd all that much happier. From there Meath kicked it off a mild crowd talking break with getting us to howl like the wolves in the night that we are, with the aptly dubbed “Wolves”.

Without missing a beat the audience danced into the night as the electronic duo played hit after hit for us. Thankfully, there wasn’t one ass in a seat (the sign of a great show) as they peppered the crowd with “PARAD(w/m)E”, “Hey Mami”, “H.S.K.T.” and my personal favorite “Radio” to end the initial set.

Thankfully without too much begging the duo came back out with some local Milwaukee friends they knew from back in the day and pleased the crowd with “Play It Right”. After a welcoming bunch, the two brought it back with fan favorites “Slack Jaw” and “Rewind”.

In total, the show was nothing short of amazing and a welcome return for both Meath and Sandborn to their roots of both budding love and beautiful sonic sound. After a good hour and a half of dancing my ass off, screaming my face off, and soaking in a fun-filled crowd I can’t even imagine waiting for what this potential revolutionary duo has in store for the music scene. Milwaukee will always welcome you with open arms, especially if you keep up what you two are doing.



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