First off, days of me buying tickets to concerts in advance are over. Almost every fucking time I buy tickets early, when they go on sale, whomever I‘m planning to go to the show with winds up being unavailable, or both of us can’t make it. Unless it’s a big whoop de do of a musical event, the new me is patrolling StubHub like a fantasy football fiend working the waiver wire.

Operation Last Minute™️ got off to a rousing start tonight under the arid skies of the Greek Theatre. I had Sylvan Esso in my sights for weeks, noticed the show was far from sold out so I stood pat to make sure I was available and see if I could score a deal on last minute tickets. Sure enough, for the ungodly low price of $20 ($31 total with fees), I found myself in the 12th row. 20 BUCKS! I can’t walk out of the house without burning $100 like a kid with Pac Man Fever and a stack of quarters at Sega Center. For $20 I got my lazy ass off the couch for a rare weeknight out. Felt like Kimmy Schmidt emerging from the bunker. 

Sylvan Esso may not have sold out the Greek, but nevertheless on a crowded entertainment night in LA (tonight’s Los Angeles-area performers include Sam Smith, The Head and the Heart, Black Country New Roads, Freddie Gibbs, and Winger. WINGER. This is to say nothing of the 50,000 Dodger fans at the Ravine tonight, or the impending invasion of Queen Bey on Sofi this weekend. Still, 4,000 or so fans ain’t chopped liver.

There is something I’ve always loved about duo bands, in particular female/male combos.  Sylvan Esso remind me of one of my favorites, the Eurythmics.  I say without hesitation that the Sweet Dreams album is one of the most underrated albums of the 1980s. Esso (can I call them esso? should I?) sorta occupy a similar space, with electronic textures supporting a striking front woman.  To be honest until this very moment of googling I did not know the name of their lead singer, Amelia Meath.  To be honest and fair, Meath is no Annie Lennox in terms of musical dexterity, or even straight up legendary presence.  Let’s be real, Annie has been, is, and always will be badass.  One of the great voices of her generation.  Amelia by contrast is more of a kinetic presence, exerting enough energy to provide kilowatts of luminescence in the Los Feliz sky.  Reminds me a bit of Terri Nunn of Berlin.  Was Berlin a duo? I can’t remember.  Brings to mind what our great philosopher Jeff Spicoli once said, “I want to party with that dude”.  Dude in this case is Meath and/or her co-band member Nick Sanborn.  They’re married.  How cute is that?!

Other duos of this ilk that are truly near and dear to my heart: Everything But The Girl. White Stripes. Ravonettes. Portishead.  I wore a Portishead t shirt to the show tonight, unironically.* 

* Actual irony may vary

The crowd that attends a Sylvan Esso concert in LA can best be described as millennial white moms with young children who can still somehow pull of the feminine version of a fedora (think Indiana Jones, but for ladies).  Still rolling with a friend who has a boyfriend but hasn’t gotten married.  Down to party, but levelheaded enough to be able to film the show with one hand whilst consuming a boozy seltzer with the other.  Gay friend optional.  I know it sounds like I’m making fun, and I guess I am but let’s be honest – it’s out of a deep insecurity from the fact that I’ve probably got ten years on most of them.  If my daughter slash DJ co-host (I’m the McMahon to her Carson to be sure) was in town she’d be with me at the show.  She’s not in town because, cough cough unlike your recently potty trainee, my girl is a JUNIOR IN COLLEGE.  And it should be confessed – alone. I wanted to see the show on my own terms. Leave me alone.

The show was swimming along nicely when it hit a stretch of 4-5 songs that, if I’m being honest, all sounded the same.  They were ok, but it was easy to get lost in where one song ended and another began.  Sylvan Esso knows what their fans want to hear, but I think for them to take that jump from mid-large font on the Coachella poster to perennial headliner, they need to be able to fill this stretch with better tunes.  It was about 20 minutes that tested my desire to stay at the show, knowing I had a long walk down to Los Feliz Blvd to fetch my car and all.  I peeked at their setlist online and knew that “Radio” was coming up. Seeing “Radio” live confirms that it’s the band’s best song.  By then Meath is decked out in fabulous full puffball regalia.  It was a reaffirming moment for a talented, contemporary sounding band with a devoted fan base.  They know how to effectively stretch a pretty minimal production (their stage rider can be summarized as follows: singer; microphone; sound board setup; microphone on small riser; 8 programmed LED lights. Items sold separately at Amazon and these fine retailers.  Let’s actually give them props for what must be the lowest overhead of a touring band out there today.  They could tour comfortably in a Kia.  They don’t of course.  I hope they’re splurging on suites.

When “Radio” was over, so was I. Fun times were had.