Despite hardly being thought of as a 'happy' band by those who have listened to them, frontman Pete Silberman twice tells us The Antlers are indeed very happy to be here in Bristol, and I believe him. Following the release of their near-universally acclaimed second album Burst Apart, I’d imagine it’s quite a good time to be in this Brooklyn band.
Their dark, intimate lyrics and sweeping, electronic brand of guitar rock are often enthusiastically likened to that of another critically beloved band from Oxford, not too far from Bristol’s Thekla tonight. Though comparisons to stadium giants Radiohead are easy to make (especially during twitchy, falsetto-heavy opener Parentheses), The Antlers seem very comfortable in
this small venue. Silberman’s voice, ranging from a chilling falsetto croon to a desperate yelp, is one of the most impressive things about this band live. It stands up incredibly well. Even against the cacophonous, glitchy backing provided by keyboardist Darby Cicci, Silberman’s vocals are striking and incredibly affecting.
Some songs benefit more than others from The Antlers’ feedback-heavy live treatment; lead single I Don’t Want Love is transformed from something very good into something quite incredible. Conversely, the dreamy atmosphere of Hounds is unfortunately washed away, whilst several needless extended band jam-outs appended to the end of songs mean that the second half of the gig drags at points.
For the most part, however, The Antlers’ live approach suits the raw, nakedly emotional nature of the songs. More than a few goose-bumps are raised, though the overall atmosphere in the room is certainly more elated than downtrodden. I’d say we’re happy to be here too, Pete.