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EL VY (The National, Menomena), Wye Oak and Julien Baker played two NYC shows (Bowery Ballroom pics)

photos by Amanda Hatfield, words by Andrew Sacher

EL VY / Wye Oak / Julien Baker @ Bowery Ballroom – 11/13/15
EL VY
Wye Oak
Julien Baker

EL VY released their debut album Return to the Moon at the tail-end of last month via 4AD, and their tour in support of it hit NYC this past weekend for sold-out shows at Bowery Ballroom on Friday (11/13) and Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday (11/14). The band is led by Matt Berninger (who fronts The National) and Brent Knopf (who fronts Ramona Falls and used to be in Menomena), and they were joined by drummer Andy Stack (of their tourmates Wye Oak), backup vocalist Moorea Masa (who also sings on their album), and another guitarist/bassist. Brent is the band’s multi-instrumentalist and he switched around a lot from keyboards to acoustic guitar to electric. And Matt Berninger was as distinctly Matt Berninger as ever, doing Matt Berninger things like quickly going from standing still and somberly singing to screaming and thrashing around the stage and slamming his mic to the ground. Now that he’s a guy who’s headlined Barclays Center, it was a treat to see him up close and personal. As for the setlist, they played all of Return to the Moon and also covered Fine Young Cannibals “She Drives Me Crazy” (which they’ve been doing the whole tour), which got a good portion of the crowd singing.

Wye Oak provided direct support, with a set that leaned pretty equally on their more rocking material and the poppier sounds they explored on last year’s Shriek. As they always do, they sounded super full considering they’re just a two piece. And speaking of sounding full with a small stage setup, Julien Baker, the young Memphis singer/songwriter who opened both NYC shows, sounded really great with nothing more than her voice and clean electric guitar. Her debut album only just came out (via 6131) but it’s clear that she’s already a super confident performer. A lot of her stuff is somber and introverted, but she could really belt it when she wanted to. The shows with EL VY were just two of her three NYC shows this weekend. She also played a late show at Mercury Lounge with Eliott Brood on Saturday (Mina Tindle was supposed to open the MHOW show but had to cancel).

If you haven’t yet, read our interview with EL VY. More pictures from Bowery below…

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