Sylvan Esso plays sold-out show at Bowery


Matthew Mahoney

The indie electropop duo Sylvan Esso gleefully pranced onto the Bowery Ballroom stage on Sept. 12 — the second sold-out show of a two-night stop in New York City.

Sylvan Esso, which has a home base in Durham, North Carolina, is an American duo comprising singer Amelia Meath, a member of folk-trio Mountain Man, and Nick Sanborn, the bassist in the experimental rock group Megafaun.

The two met and formed Sylvan Esso when Sanburn was opening for Mountain Man in 2013 and Meath asked him to remix one of her songs, “Play it Right.”

Meath, described by one concertgoer as an “acid bunny,” was outfitted in a neon, skintight onesie that featured a cigarette-smoking face,   along with a pair of massive white Buffalo shoes. Dressed in a black T-shirt, Sanburn took his place behind a computer and control panel. They were flanked at the rear by four vertical lights that pulsed to the beat of the music and were controlled by Sanburn’s dramatic hand movements.

The show opened with the seductive “Hey Mami,” during which Meath’s dance moves built anticipation for the shuddering bass line that enters halfway through the song.

Meath and Sanburn chatted amicably with the crowd and with each other throughout a set that included their entire self-titled debut album, “Sylvan Esso.”

Standouts were the danceable “H.S.K.T.,” the soothing “Coffee” and the smooth “Uncatena,” where Meath’s voice was brimming with emotion and sent chills down audience members’ spines. Meath’s vocals sailed gorgeously over Sanburn’s crisp production throughout the set. The main set ended with the catchy hit “Play it Right.”

Amid cries for more material, Meath and Sanburn apologized that their set was ending, but then coyly asserted the audience must have known the finale was coming, as “Sylvan Esso” has only 10 songs to their name.

The pair returned after a few minutes to play two more songs. Admitting they had already played all their bangers, they relaxed the pace and started with a cover of Porches’ “The Cosmos,” a soaring rendition replete with stunning vocals and synths. The final song was the album closer, “Come Down.”

Meath and Sanburn thanked the audience again for coming out and for selling out the show three months in advance. Based on their sincere appreciation for the fans’ support, it is likely they will stick to their charming and humble roots even as they continue to tour throughout Europe and other parts of the United States.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 16 print edition. Email Matthew Mahoney at [email protected].