August 21, 2009
by Lara Longo
If you were close enough to the
stage, you could see the sweat wicking off Peter
Silberman and his guitar. "It's a bit chilly
up here," quipped The Antlers frontman. The
Brooklyn-based band's record release party at Mercury
Lounge couldn't have been steamier and yet, the
sold out crowd endured the swamp-like conditions
to pay their respects to Hospice, the Antlers'
knockout first full-length album.
One of 2009's best, Hospice
is a track-by-track chronology of events leading
up to and following a loved one's passing. Concept
albums have become a tired convention with their
tendency to forceful convey tone and message; suffice
it to say, Hospice reimagines the traditional
concept album. With ethereal drone and delicate
falsetto, Silberman crafts a beautifully mournful
narrative, one that embodies the duality of death.
The guitar-drum-keyboard three-piece
performed Hospice in its entirety, almost
exactly in order of the album's track listing. Fittingly,
the hushed crowd was still throughout the set, with
the exception of "Sylvia," a bleek, mid-tempo
mover and "Two," a wordy, twinkling shaker.
In his operatic range, Silberman sustained impossibly
fragile vocals, like on closer, "Epilogue;"
moments earlier was an entirely different scene:
cathartic wailing, murky synths, and rocking bodies
Hospice, as performed
live, was the acting out of very real concepts—a
diagnosis, a death rattle, a funeral, all come to
life through the music. When the show was over,
the mood was more reverent and introspective than
celebratory. And who could blame us? We just spent
an hour in mourning and recovery.