Article and photos by: Andrew Kopanski
Boston, MA – It’s a frigid night in late December as the doors open and an excited crowd shuffles up the stairs to The Sinclair, happy to be out of the chill and into the warm anteroom. The hall slowly fills up over the next hour, waiting for the show to begin. It’s been almost a year exactly since Tall Heights last performed at the very same venue in Boston, and a lot has changed for the band since. 2016 saw the release of their latest album Neptune, which was a significant departure from their older music. Still true to their style, this latest release adds additional layers of synthesizers and complexity on top of their classic folk style.
Starting with “Don’t Let Me Fall,” Adrian and Angelo, the two members of Yolk Lore warmed up the already packed house. The pair, with electronic additions to their banjo and drums often takes strong influence from Mumford and Sons in their pre-electric guitar days. Other times, it’s entirely different. For one song, the drum kit provided the only music for the song, allowing Adrian to put all of his energy into his singing and dancing. Channeling Glass Animals in his white cut off jeans, they veered far from their namesake folk roots but really hit their groove and had the crowd dancing along to the catchy tune. They finished with “Tom Robbins,” a stripped down acoustic song that the band said they haven’t wanted to record, leaving it as something special, something concrete and physical with the audience in their shows.
Tall Heights kicked off their Christmas-themed performance with a wonderful cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.” The two front men shared vocal work, one on guitar, the other sporting an impressive harness and standing up with a full sized cello. An early problem with the cello amp had guitarist Tim Harrington asking the crowd for suggestions for Christmas songs to sing and someone from the back shouted “Little Drummer Boy!” He started to sing in perfect time “I do not know the words to this song pa rum pum pum pum…” as the audience took over and belted out all three verses much to the band’s amusement. Technical issues resolved, the music picked up where it left off – smooth, beautiful, and in perfect harmony. The trio seamlessly traded parts, the guitar fading to the sweeping notes of the cello, all accented by the drums.
The mix of songs spanned the wide gap between their older more folk-oriented repertoire to their new tracks from Neptune including favorites “Fire Escape” and “Backwards and Forwards.” These new songs have the lead duo singing faster and echoing off one another as they treat everyone to these peppy and infectious new songs. The end of their show had a surprise visit from a boisterous Santa Claus – passing out candy and wishing a Merry Christmas to all.
Tall Heights is continuing their tour throughout the United States, be sure to check them out at a venue near you.