Lost in the Tree's Ari Picker
The stage at the Mercury Lounge may be modestly sized, but that didn't stop the venue from packing in the performers. Between the two bands that played at the early show Monday night, 13 people performed, many wielding large instruments.
First up was the folk/Americana six-piece, The Loom. Though the band hails from New York, they sound nothing like your typical Brooklyn band - and that's not a bad thing. Absent are any signs of distortion, reverb, or prefab beats. Much like the headlining act, The Loom is characterized by complementary male/female vocals, lush instrumentation, and well-placed hand claps.
With so many people in the band and such a wide array of instruments (banjo, trumpet, keyboard, French horn, ukulele), The Loom's musical interludes were a bit hectic at times, but eventually, everything would come together to create a rich tapestry of sound that showcased both the individual musicians and their project as a whole.
Soon after The Loom had concluded their set with a couple of newer songs, the members of Lost In The Trees began scrambling around on the stage and stringing around chords in preparation for their show. Then, suddenly, music began to cut through the din of the crowd. The band members onstage stood at the ready and looked into the crowd expectantly. I turned around and pinpointed the source of the music - the tuba and French horn players were working their way to the stage from the back of the room.
The band kicked off their set with the first two songs from their recently released album, All Alone in an Empty House. In contrast to The Loom's largely hopeful lyrics, Lost in the Trees specializes in creating hauntingly beautiful orchestral pieces that feature lyrics about going crazy, burying babies, making mistakes, and feeling lonely.
Considering the fact that they had driven all the way from their home of North Carolina just that morning, the seven members of Lost in the Trees had a surprising amount of energy. Thanks to the jaunty, haunted house-esque string introduction and major tonal shift, the song "Tall Trees" was particularly moving - if not a bit creepy.
"I started listening to classical music in 2005. It was an interesting experience. I started getting a feeling like I was in church or something. It was a mind-opening experience," singer/composer Ari Picker confessed by way of explaining his intense emotional investment in his band's music. Throughout the set, Picker danced on tiptoes as he played, pausing every now and then to kneel on the ground, his head bowed in concentration.
As he introduced their final song, Picker turned to the crowd. "Do you guys want to do a sing-a-long song? I'll teach it to you and you'll sing it. It will be like a Flaming Lips concert," he joked. "And we'll play it on the ground for you."
The band unplugged their instruments, hopped off the stage, and played a stirring rendition of "Time Taunts Me." From his spot in the middle of the floor, Ari lead the crowd in a beautiful sing-a-long with the ardor of a street corner evangelist desperate to save souls. I, for one, left the room a convert.
More pictures from the Mercury Lounge show, below...
Lost In The Trees
THE LOOM - 2010 TOUR DATES
Aug 28 2010 PA's lounge w/ Jenne Halstead, Hot Cha Cha, and Reverend Somerville, MA
Sep 17 2010 The Dakota Tavern w/ Daniel, Fred, and Julie Toronto, ON
Sep 18 2010 Valentine's w/ Sgt. Dunbar & the Hobo Banned, Eureka Birds, and Mia Riddle Albany, NY
LOST IN THE TREES - 2010 TOUR DATES
Aug 26 2010 Wallace Plaza w/ The Physics of Meaning Chapel Hill, NC
Sep 11 2010 DAY-DREAM | Trekky Records Hopscotch Day Party Raleigh, NC