words & photos by Dominick Mastrangelo
Himalayas / Elvis Perkins
Having played the night before with Bowerbirds and with everyone seemingly headed to the Friendly Fires/XX show at Webster Hall, the deck may have appeared stacked against Elvis Perkins on a bitterly cold Saturday night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (12/5). The night before may have been the sexier lineup and for a moment it seemed that opener Himalayas, and their marching band madness, were going to pull a Merrill Garbus and upstage the headliner. But for all their sound and 30-plus people on the stage, it was the nuance and subtleties of Perkins and his smart use of his supporting act that ultimately won out.
Probably nowhere was that more apparent than in his choice of set opener, "While You Were Sleeping", Perkins opting to counter the earlier chaos with just himself and his acoustic guitar. His band took the stage as needed and filled in as the song grew. Members of Himalayas, including band leader Kenny Wollesen (who sat in on drums for a couple songs), provided extra horns. The highlight of the intermittent collaboration coming late in the set during the acoustic Chains, Chains, Chains, as they popped up mid-song in the balcony to provide the musical bridge. Earlier on Perkins enlisted the crowd as his gospel choir as he introduced "Slow Doomsday" from his new Doomsday EP. "This next song requires a gospel choir," said Perkins, "but there's not enough room on this stage for one... so that means you." Throw in a good-natured Brooklyn vs New York competition and Perkins had his choir. "You're already winning, Brooklyn," claimed Perkins, as the crowd sang shaky but credible "ahhs" to augment the slow, brassy waltz.
More pictures from Saturday night, including one of the setlist, below...