Cosmo Sheldrake, Sylvan Esso @ The Louisiana, Bristol, 03/10/14

Sylvan Esso: Nick Sanborn, Amelia Meath. Photo by D.L. AndersonI’ll admit that this date has been marked in my calendar for quite some time. Since discovering Sylvan Esso through their single “Coffee”, reviewing their album and interviewing Nick twice, I’ve become somewhat fanatical about the North Carolina two-piece. I’m not alone. Since their debut hit shelves in June they’ve gone from strength to strength, touring extensively in Europe and the US as well as playing the Tonight Show. This evening however, they have traded 1000+ crowds and television cameras and graced the sold-out crowd at The Louisiana for a special intimate show.

Before Nick and Amelia take to the stage it’s up to rising production wizard Cosmo Sheldrake to warm up the crowd. Following similar suit to the headliners, Sheldrake is armed-only with microphone and controller, his programmed beats interspersed with on the spot improvisation and layers of vocal samples.

There’s a very strong essence of reggae and dub infused in each of his songs, most obviously during his set opener, a stylistic rendition of “Iko Iko”. Sheldrake sets the tone and mood for Sylvan Esso perfectly, unfortunately the whole set is a little samey. Coming away from the show the only actual memory is “Iko Iko”, which can be attributed to its iconic heritage. There’s no part of me that believes Cosmo Sheldrake does not deserve the growing buzz surrounding him, on the contrary, his live production work is stellar. There is just a lack of maturity to the song writing, which sets him apart from the headliners tonight and makes his set slightly deflating.

Finally, after months of waiting Sylvan Esso finally take to the stage and explode straight into “Hey Mami”. With Amelia’s vocals looping over one another and the pulsating sub shaking the walls of the Louisiana it’s instantly evident how they’ve achieved so much in so little time. Every aspect of the music they make exudes an almost telepathic understanding of one another. Amelia’s undulating melodies carry a rhythm so strong that Nick is able to craft minimal, yet effective musical accompaniment that edifies each note.

With only Sylvan Esso's debut in the back catalogue they sway in and out of chronology of the record, showing off hits like “Coffee” and the perfectly paced “Dress” earlier in the set. It’s an album that has to be enjoyed from start to finish, but unlike many can defy its original order and still deliver the same experience. However, what cannot be undone is how the experience ends. After leaving the stage to the dying throb of “Play It Right”, the pair quickly returns to the stage delivering their rendition of “The Cosmos” by Porches before exiting on the wonderful “Come Down”.

Described by Nick as a question mark they wanted to end the debut on, “Come Down” is a composite of four-vocal loops and drone guitar, a track which eschews the staple components of their previous 9 songs. It is a beautifully understated end to the evening and reminds the room of the modesty and heart that is Sylvan Esso.


One Response to “Cosmo Sheldrake, Sylvan Esso @ The Louisiana, Bristol, 03/10/14”


  1. Sylvan Esso + Cosmo Sheldrake live at The Louisiana [3/10/14] – Chris Mackin Writer - 02/02/2019

    […] Read the full review at DrunkenWerewolf. […]

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