Five songs and 20+ minutes -- that's all it took for Esben and the Witch to convinced me that they are legit. The U.K. band made their U.S. debut tonight in Brooklyn, before heading off on their first U.S. tour as the opening act for Foals. You are now required to get to those shows early to witness this trio.
- Marching Song
To call Esben and the Witch moody, atmospheric and epic is to state the obvious. With an army of pedals at their feet and keyboards and guitars on their fingers, the three aim to melt some ear drums. They take their time building upon the layers they create, as if they are evolving before our eyes. Each song has a pulse that would quicken and deflate within songs like a living entity. The title track off their debut EP on Matador, Marching Song, has all those elements that we like in dark, yet massive songs -- swirling guitars vs. punctuated guitar lines, hard beats and plenty of electronics to grab onto.
In the middle is the spry lead singer, Rachel Davies, hiding behind her hoody so that she can't be seen. Although, the band played in darkness with only that background as a light source. The chaos that the band injects into their song comes from their intense guitar player Daniel Copeman. When I was reading up on the band, every article would mention their fantastic live show. I can see why, it's Daniel, who spins, contorts and whirls around on stage as if he's a wrestling his guitar for supremacy. Was he playing guitar or what the guitar playing him? In any event, the guy had an elaborate pedal set-up, which looked like he could launch the space shuttle with it. The guy is a living tornado, it's best stay out the way. And watch out for flying drum sticks when he gets to bang away on the standing bass drum.
It's going to be interesting to see if Esben and the Witch catches on, since they are relatively unknown on both sides of the pond. Their short set was just a taster of what's to come.
As you tell, they made use of that lighted background of tissue paper as clouds, which is not a fire hazard at all. Right building inspectors?
Before Esben were local boys Mon Khmer, not to b e confused with the Khmer Rouge. They are still a relatively green band, but they had some good elements in their songs. You hear some sweet synth parts, a steady beat and some off-kilter rythems in their tunes. If you take one element fron one song and then one from another, then they can make a name for themselves from the 100 other 80s synth-pop outfits in town now. I think at this point, they are still trying to find their own voice in the crowded field.