Quirky folk trio Plum Giant started off the night with a set of complex, high energy tunes, for which they received a very enthusiastic response from the audience. The backbone of their sound is interwoven and tightly arranged vocal harmony, but done with more of a gritty country folk feel than a highly polished choral sound. And, although the two bands use vocal harmonies to fill a different niche in their respective sounds, the instrumentation and energy behind Plum Giant led well into Darlingside's set.
Darlingside definitely sounds like a band that is realizing their collective vision. Every member of the quintet is a solid instrumentalist, and they seem very comfortable being on stage and playing together, which is a surprisingly rare thing. This level of comfort could come from the background they have of all living in the same house together (when you're roommates with four other dudes for any period of time you tend to savvy to their quirks), or the success they had individually as musicians before they got together, but however it came about, the band exudes a sense of ease from the stage which is a crucial element in the success of a live act.
Darlingside is a member of that majestic pantheon of bands whose sound is built on heavily reverbed electric guitar arpeggios, stompy stuttering drum beats, and clean, high pitched vocals, but they do it quite well. Their songs have a clear structure and intent to them which holds it all together and allows for the cathartic release of the chorus to hit with the proper impact that it should. The band clearly has the ability to rock a heavier sound, and they do when it's appropriate, but they don't insist on it. This sort of tasteful restraint and clear musical direction is a welcome oasis in the world of earsplitting, indecisive live music. If you're gonna have amplified instruments and an audience that paid to see you, you should have something to say (even if it's in musical metaphor). Darlingside clearly has something to share.
Photo Credit: Robert Laing