Band: The Middle East
Venue: Dan's Silverleaf
Time: 9 p.m.
True to the random, follow-your-nose nature of NX35, I was just heading out of Dan's to catch a spot in line at Hailey's before the much-anticipated Walkmen show filled to capacity, when Australia's Middle East kicked off just in time to change my plans.
At first, the sweetly arpeggiated acoustic finger-style struck me as somewhat saccharine--until a more tragic note in singer Jordan Ireland's delicate tenor caught me short.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
45 minutes later, the seven-piece closed with "Blood," a haunted rave-up that somehow managed to wrap the contradictory emotions of deep loss and celebration around a celtic-tinged melody with four-part background vocals, leaving the now rapt audience literally yelling for more, and booing when it was clear no encore would be forthcoming.
With a lineup reminiscent of Telegraph Canyon's--banjo, acoustic and electric guitars, accordion, keyboard and multiple vocalists--and with an ambient, roots-indie sound just as hard to pin down, Middle East left an indelible impression. After the set, with the near-capacity crowd at the Silverleaf still yelling and catcalling during teardown, the band members kept looking up wide-eyed, genuinely surprised at the response.
Middle East's manager seemed completely unprepared for the rush on CDs that ensued: "Let me go back to the van and see what I've got," he said.
He came back with two.