The first time I saw Milo Greene
live, it was an early Thursday set in a tiny tent at the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
. They were, in fact, the second band I shot at my first ever festival as press. And they made an immediate impression as a folk-pop band to watch. But nothing from that muggy afternoon in the blistering Tennessee sun could have prepared me for Milo Greene's triumphant performance at the Music Hall of Williamsburg
on a deliciously delightful Friday the 13th.
While I enjoyed Milo Greene's set and their self-titled debut debut, my sister & her then roommate became immediate fans. My little sister had barely heard of the band, and she'd chosen that tent for the day on an almost total whim. But the multi-instrumentalism, soaring harmonies, and intimate energy of the band won not only her over but the other early-birds in the tent at Bonnaroo who were still recovering from their journey to the festival. She's been listening to Milo Greene
regularly since. And she devoured the news and ultimate release of the band's excellent sophomore effort Control
with an intense fervor for a band she'd never even heard of two years prior. And when she saw they were playing at the Music Hall, she decided to make the 7 hour trek from WV to see them -- despite her considerable fear of driving in NYC traffic -- and her old roommate made an equally far journey to see both the band and her.
There's a point to this story. There's a sense of ownership with bands when you catch them at the beginning of their careers. If you'd been listening to say The National
since their self-titled or Sad Songs and Dirty Lovers
, you feel a deeper connection with the band than someone who discovered them with the breakthrough success of High Violet
or Trouble Will Find Me
. There's nothing wrong with only finding out about a band once they become popular. That's just how music getting popular works. But my worship of Kid A
will never have the same intensity as someone who can actually remember going to the record store and buying The Bends
Milo Greene's popularity has been exploding since the second album's release, and Friday's Music Hall performance was a textbook example of capitalizing on your momentum. With a crowd that featured a mix of new and old fans alike, Milo Greene should be putting any concerns of a sophomore slump to bed. Milo Greene easily put on one of the best sets I've had the pleasure of catching at that particular venue, and the performance marked the transition for Milo Greene from being a very good folk-pop act to genuine rock stars.
It's amazing what two well-received records can do for a band's confidence and energy. From opener "White Lies" til pre-encore closer "What's the Matter," Milo Greene had total control of their sound and their audience's attention. During the more atmospheric and electronic tracks from the new record, the audience hardly ever stopped dancing and even during the slowest tracks from the old album, the audience was swaying, lost in the naked emotion of each vocalist in the band. Hell, the band managed to make Phil Collin's cool again with a swirling but electric cover of "Take Me Home."
It didn't hurt Milo Greene's cause that tracks like "1957" and "Don't You Give Up on Me" nearly caused the Music Hall to explode with screaming and singing fans. Milo Greene is at that point in a band's career where they have a large enough library of songs to put on an hour and a half set but not so many songs that they have to leave too many out, and I couldn't get over how many people in the audience seemed to know all the words to even the slowest tracks. There's an emotional drama inherent to Milo Greene's music, and it's clear that audiences are connecting with these stories.
have the potential to form these kinds of relationships with their listeners if Friday was any indication. Imagine what would happen if Adele was in a band with Matt Mondanile from Real Estate but Madeline Follin from Cults had taught Adele how to sing, and you'll get the idea. Lead singer Sasha Spielberg (yeah, she's Steven Spielberg's daughter) has a hell of a voice and a natural charm that is supplemented by equally funky and soulful guitar work from her brother Theo. Their debut record Love/Idleness
was just released, and it's worth checking out.
After the show was over, my sister hugged her old roommate goodbye, and then she and I made the nearly two hour commute back to my place. We were both exhausted after a long day driving into the city as well as moving me into my new place in Brooklyn, but we couldn't stop talking about the set: about how much more active each member of the band was on stage (but especially Robbie Arnett and Andrew Heringer who seemed like nearly different people from the last time we saw them), about how our early skepticism about the poppier and more electronic feel of the new record turned out to be unfounded, and how we can't wait to see the band again. I can't imagine wanting much more out of a show than that.
Also, if you're a Milo Greene fan, you have to check out the exclusive shoot we did with the band at the Wythe Hotel in 2012. It's can't miss.