James Ross Kiefer
With a touch of intimacy and enough pondering melodies to impress a liberal arts student, Weyes Blood offers one of the most dynamic concert going experiences I’ve been privy to in a while. They recently played Kings in downtown Raleigh, with local indie outfit Truly and it proved to be quite the spectacle.
The quartet Truly opened up the show. Band mates Spencer Auten, Ali Rogers, and Nate G each took turns trading off between bass, guitar and keyboards. Sara Kennedy did double duty on drums and synthesizer, as well as performing backup vocals on a few songs.
They started off their set with the song “Parking Lot,” which begins with a brooding piano line and doodling guitar. The lyrics describe a man voyeuristically watching a woman in a parking lot. It morphs into a slow driving beat, while maintaining a sparse instrumentation throughout the song.
“Eroperie” is a more playful tune. Similar to “Parking Lot” piano also begins this track. Focusing more on creating brief, lush moments, the song picks up pace dramatically while more instruments fill in. It is fairly short but still whimsical. “Honey” is also reminiscent of a Modest Mouse in style. There are rapid unexpected tempo changes and jagged chord progressions, making the song never really felt settled, but in a pleasant way.
Truly ended their set with “Entire Planet.” Ali hopped on guitar and started rolling chords at a brisk and lulling pace. The bass was muffled and percussive, having a few little lyrical moments. The hushed drumming added to the vocals, as it felt like Ali was barely singing above a whisper.
Taking the stage, each member of Weyes Blood looked as if they had found their own personal jackpot at a local thrift store. Natalie Mering, the lead singer and songwriter, was decked out in an electric blue satin suit. Par her recognition comes from her work with Ariel Pink and Jackie-O Motherf*cker. Mering was on tour to promote her latest release as Weyes Blood, “Front Row Seat to Earth.” This marks her fourth record following “The Innocents” and “Cardamom Times” EP all on the Mexican Summer label.
On stage the band was composed of a drummer, Mering on acoustic guitar, a keyboardist doubling on slide guitar, and a bass player who also played synthesizer on a few tracks. Early on in the set the song “Diary” set the mood for the show. With a beautiful piano intro and soaring vocals added on top, this song feels like the beginning to a space journey.
“Used to Be” continued use of the piano but on more dramatic grounds. The song is more similar vocally to an R&B ballad in terms of power. Hinging on a psychedelic tone in terms of layering, there is something undeniably warm and inviting about this track. “Be Free” takes a much more stripped down approach. With a simple strumming guitar and the keyboards going at a quiet hum in the background, some claves eventually add in, and the song ends on a tender moment.
The track “Generation Why” incorporated the drummer singing through a vocoder, which is a synthesizer that generates sound by receiving vocal speech. This was probably Weyes Blood most intimate song. Partnering the dreary lyrics about the end of days, the term YOLO makes an appearance, with the soft acoustic guitar part makes the song feel sonically large and transcendental.
On “Do You Need My Love” Mering was at her most tragic. Depicting a rather dreadful relationship ending, this song centered around the revolving piano riff, while the rest of the band joined in on backing vocals.
The set ended with a solo performance of Mering. She played a track off of “The Innocents,” which featured her solely on acoustic guitar. Entitled “Bad Magic,” Mering sang of running away from her problems, ignoring loved ones, loneliness and self worth. It was powerful, poetic and personal all at once.
After this Mering ended her show with a simple bow, thanking her bandmates, and walked off stage. It was a fitting end for an amazing evening.