Eisley | 02.20.17

Front woman Dupree-Bemis is known for being a charming personality on stage, and this night was no exception.

Exit/In, Nashville

Eisley’s current live lineup—which doesn’t include longtime members and siblings Stacy King, Chauntelle D’agostino, and Weston Dupree—might be their best lineup to date (sorry, longtime hardcore fans). One of the biggest differences with the current cast of Sherri Dupree-Bemis, Garron Dupree, Jedidiah Lachman, Remy Dupree, and Elle Puckett is more of a rock band feel as compared to the original lineup.

Starting the Nashville show off with single “Louder than a Lion,” the track is more striking live with its bombastic drums and heavy bass. However, the live mixing for Eisley’s set this night becomes a mess on other songs that are more than bass and drum focused. While the band themselves are great, house sound for the night during most full band songs was literally drums, bass, and vocals. Guitars and keys overall were mixed so low in half the set that it felt as if all the melodic instruments were far in the background. What’s interesting is that, last fall on their tour with The Dear Hunter, when they played the exact same venue, the sound was infinitely better.

On their second song “Smarter,” the performance was rough overall, and the chugging guitars and piano got buried underneath the bass and drums. The band redeemed themselves fast in the following songs, but sound issues with mixing persist throughout until about three-fourths of the set. It’s a shame, as songs such as “Sad,” “Memories,” and “Shelter” didn’t get to shine in their usual glory. However, performances on “Drink the Water,” and “I Could Be There for You” worked with the sound issues—but these two songs are heavy on drum and bass arrangements to begin with.

Front woman Dupree-Bemis is known for being a charming personality on stage, and this night was no exception. In her live mess ups, her self-deprecating humor makes her become more endearing rather than unprofessional. Despite recovering from a cold, her vocal work held up strong through most of the set. However, as this is Dupree-Bemis’s first Eisley tour without any of her sisters, there were a few kinks still that haven’t been ironed out. For instance, while Dupree-Bemis herself is a soprano, sisters Stacy King is an alto and Chauntelle D’Agostino a mezzo. While Dupree-Bemis for the most part pulls off all the lead parts that would’ve been sung by her sisters, this isn’t always done gracefully. “Millstone,” “Shelter,” and “Ambulance” might’ve benefited from a key change to better fit Dupree-Bemis’s range.

Of course, Eisley songs are also known for their intricate harmonies, with a few requiring dual vocal work. Live bandmate Puckett (from Nashville’s Poema) was able to pull off these vocal lines; however, sometimes vocal performance felt lifeless. All the same, as this was her first time singing this much backup for Eisley, and the fact this show is pretty early in the tour, Puckett is probably still trying to figure out her live dynamic with the band.

The strongest parts of this show for Dupree-Bemis were the songs that are hers on the studio albums. Singles “You Are Mine” and “Defeatist” work much better live than they do on the album. “Song for the Birds” was also a live highlight, and if Eisley is going to continue in this direction for the next few albums, perhaps on following tours they can shed more old material and focus their shows more around Dupree-Bemis’s fun, and at times moody, guitar-driven songs. Currents number “The Night Comes” is being played for the first time ever on this tour, and it was one of the most intimate performances, with Dupree-Bemis starting the song accompanied only by her guitar.

Room Noises’ “Lost at Sea” also made an appearance in the set. Dupree-Bemis dedicated the song to a friend in the audience, Israel Anthem, who filmed their new music videos. Dupree-Bemis also jokingly told a story about how Anthem told the band long ago he didn’t think the song translated well live, so they stopped playing it, but now they’ve decided to do so again. I’m not entirely sure how “Lost at Sea” doesn’t work live, as the performance was a nice charming moment in the set.

Pseudo-encore lullaby “If You’re Wondering” saw Dupree-Bemis softly crooning. However, once the rest of the band came in, the jarring dirty bass in the mix killed the vibe a little bit. Strangely, live staples “Golly Sandra,” “The Valley,” and “Marvelous Things” were nowhere to be found. However, if Eisley is trying to move forward, these exclusions might be an expression of that idea.

Music aside, the light show arranged by Garron Dupree is done better on this tour than when they were touring for Currents. Eisley introduced the light show in 2014 in an attempt to up their live experience; however, at the time, it would get overwhelming throughout parts of the set. On this tour, Eisley has thankfully scaled it back a little and made it work better. The bubbles are a nice touch and add to the dreamy theme of their new album. Overall, the effect feels more dynamic, and the intro voice at the show makes the performance feel almost theatrical.

Again, while the house mix was questionable throughout the show, Eisley once again proved to be a charming talented group of musicians. Eisley is on tour through March with Backwards Dancer and Civilian. With the current live lineup getting more and more accompanied to one another, they can only get better from here on out. Be sure to not just catch them, but also their stellar openers if they’re coming through your city. | Michael Cheng

Set list:

Louder than a Lion
Drink the Water
I Could Be There for You
Song for the Birds
Many Funerals
You Are Mine
Lost at Sea
I Wasn’t Prepared
The Night Comes
If You’re Wondering

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