What’s it like to be holding back tears, feeling like heartbreak will never end, only to eventually fall back into the cushioned safety and comfort of hope and, dare it be suggested, love?
Just ask The Antlers.
This Brooklyn-based rock band is all about stirring up contradictory emotions with their songs, taking fans on an emotional rollercoaster ride they’ll voluntarily ride again and again. The Antlers are continuously breaking fans’ hearts with their songs, only to turn around and promise them that things will get better, just wait and see.
As they performed at the sixth annual Do Division Street Festival on June 3 in Wicker Park, this was the exact mindset the band was trying to get the crowd to accept.
After technical difficulties that delayed the show for 15 minutes, lead singer Peter Silberman greeted the tightly packed crowd by saying this was something the band hadn’t been accustomed to as of lately. With their recent shows being held in smaller towns, performing here in Chicago was almost surreal for them.
“It’s kind of a really strange dream,” he said.
Funny Silberman should say so, because that’s exactly the same sentiment he and the rest of the band instilled in the audience with their show. Who would have thought romanticizing melancholy could turn out so well?
The band opened with wistfully thoughtful “Rolled Together” from their second studio-released album “Burst Apart;” of the nine songs played, most of them came from this album.
With each new song, the audience became more mesmerized.
Silberman’s voice has the tendency to do that to people. Just a simple 10-second sample of his vocal range, from the soothing lows to the unexpected highs in any given song that are enough to make you ask “Can he really go that high?”, and listeners are left speechless.
The band also gave attendees a taste of what’s to come. Performing new song “Drift Dive” off their upcoming album “Undersea,” dropping July 24, The Antlers let audiences know they’re still going to be in their same sad-turned-happy style, but with continued growth, as always.
The emotion of each song thereafter dripped heavily in the air, sometimes becoming so heavy that choked up the crowd. Songs like “Atrophy” and “Putting the Dog to Sleep” made stereotypical the “hipster”concert façade instantly fade away. Audience members were too busy being absorbed into the show to even worry about concert behavior obligations. (Picture a slightly intoxicated (off their PBRs, of course), slightly too-cool-for-you group being put in their place, just staring directly at the band, trying to soak it all in while they could.)
That’s not to say there weren’t a few people getting really into it; in fact, by the final song, the whole audience’s mood had turned from pensive to positive.
Closing with “Wake” from their first album, “Hospice,” The Antlers turned everything completely around with just one eight-minute track.
For a song about alienating those you love and with references to suicide, it still ended on a happy note that left the crowd more than ready to embrace a new optimistic side.
“Don’t ever let anyone tell you deserve that,” Silberman crooned to the crowd in reference to overcoming personal guilt that comes from rocky relationships and inevitable hardships in love.
With the band’s quick turn of a phrase, the audience was revitalized to bright levels of optimism.
That’s the thing about The Antlers. They may break listeners down and shatter their emotional well beings with just a few simple lyrics sung in their signature sad, dreamy way, but they only do it to build help them back up. The Antlers just want their listeners to love again.
And they always do.