Tucked away in Silver Lake, the ever-understated Satellite was the apropos venue for Eleanor Friedberger’s set on Thursday night. Buzzing with almost-the-weekend energy, the no frills venue was met with the no frills act. So much so, that after the band and Friedberger emerged from a door directly behind center stage, she humbly and unceremoniously drew the black backing curtain to cover the gap through which they just entered.
Immediately, the crowd was privy to the crystal clear sound of “He Didn’t Mention His Mother”, as executed by her four-piece band. Friedberger, one half of The Fiery Furnaces, alleged to feel “just as crazy as I did last night,” as she doubled as a younger Patti Smith in both form and in spirit. Slightly spaced out synth waves murmured in the outro, teasing the subtly broad palette that would be heard throughout the evening.
An early highlight came via “Open Season”, which referenced a sort of emotional “spring cleaning.” On the cusp of the great relief of Daylight Savings Time, the lyrics evidenced a timely, if heartbroken, sentiment.
The song shifted effortlessly into Sweetest Girl, which pled for the ill-fated title character to “stop crying, so I won’t start.” When it finally released in to a lighter mood, it passed for a loping Dr. Dog jam.
After five songs, Friedberger shed her axe and coaxed attendees to move out from under the bar area overhang to a place more in front of the stage. She cited her own experience attending gigs at the venue and then, for the better part of the second half of the set, proceeded sans guitar.
“Because I Asked You,” one of the standout tracks from her recent release New View, started with a bouncing intro, and continued on to reveal coy yet pleading lyrics. “Why would you want to take it slow? Hold me til I let you go, or treat me like a tennis pro, why would you wanna do that?”
Friedberger’s band (aka Icewater, also one of the night’s opening acts), did not waver. When the ensemble wasn’t executing seamless three-part harmonies, as they did on multiple tracks, they were making swift 90 degree turns on the cue of a cracking snare hit. There was zero BS. Behind their front woman, this truly democratic group emitted warm and organically sounding melodies, patiently waiting on the moments when they were called on to pop.
“Roosevelt Island” from 2011’s Last Summer contained mini jams courtesy of a synth’d out organ, and near spoken word lyrics that suggested Lou Reed’s NYC may not differ much from the one currently inhabited by Eleanor.
The encore began with Friedberger alone, armed with an acoustic guitar. Soon, the barren stage was forgotten with the performance of “A Long Walk”. On album, the track is buoyed by strains of guitar solos that could have been lifted from The Last Waltz. But this stark performance underscored Eleanor Friedberger’s no-nonsense ability to confidently deliver hearty creations on her own.
- He Didn’t Mention His Mother
- My Own World
- Open Season
- Sweetest Girl
- I Won’t Fall Apart On You Tonight
- Your Word
- Because I Asked You
- My Mistakes
- Never is a Long Time
- Cathy with the Curly Hair
- Two Versions of Tomorrow
- Roosevelt Island
- All Known Things
- Does Turquoise Work?
- A Long Walk
- Stare at the Sun