Most concert-goers would agree that a passionate musical performance almost always trumps a thoughtless, distant one. The Eisley concert at the Vinyl on April 26 was the former: a passionate performance from a band that has matured since its youthful beginning, yet has still maintained an intimate relationship with its fans.
The concert was essentially a family event. Of the nine members of the three bands that performed, six of them are siblings, and one is a cousin. The night began with a performance from Christie DuPree, the younger sister of several members of Eisley. With help from her brother Colin on a lightly amplified electric guitar, she eased the fans into the concert with soft, pleasant acoustic songs. Her voice and vocal delivery were reminiscent of Sherri DuPree’s, her older sister and one of Eisley’s lead vocalists. However, her songwriting differed from her older sister’s. Her songs were calm and sweet, but the lack of a backing band made them a little less full than they could have been.
The next band to take stage was the Narrative, a two-piece group from New York consisting of a male guitarist and female keyboard player who both contribute vocally. Their songwriting focused on catchy yet not too distinct melodies. Susie, the band’s lovable keyboard player, had great chemistry with the realist guitar player, creating a nice stage presence. However, the group conveyed a lack of heavy road experience and less live experience than the other groups that performed.
The headlining group of the night was Eisley, who was supporting their new album The Valley on the tour. Eisley easily displayed the most live experience and showmanship. They performed their songs with ease, adding soaring melodic and harmonic texture and an abundance of energy to the delivery of songs that spanned their entire career. The setlist was heavily concentrated with tracks from the new album, but they were able to fit in older crowd favorite, such as the tracks “Golly Sandra” and “I Wasn’t Prepared” from their debut album, Room Noises.
They also fit all of the strongest tracks from the new album into the setlist. These included the gorgeous “Kind,” the upbeat “The Valley” and “Better Love” and the persistently driving “Mr. Moon” as the closer of the night. The songs from the new album, which are much heavier than tracks from the previous albums, were given even more crunch live, and the vocals were brimming with emotion, elevating the already personal, heartfelt tracks of loss and despair to a newer level of meaning and purpose.
With it being the first night of the tour, Eisley’s performance did contain some flaws, but, in a way, these blemishes on the surface of the performance actually added some additional character to the raw, emotional tracks being performed. Tours are meant to present new material to fans, but the songs don’t have to directly follow the recorded versions. The live performances are meant to add a new perspective to the songs and to provide insight that the crowd would not be able to obtain directly from the studio version. From this perspective, Eisley did just what they needed to do. They added more dimensions to their tracks and gave the crowd something more than could be obtained from just the albums.
Eisley is a band that got off to a pretty strong start at a young age by opening for Coldplay on the Rush of Blood to the Head tour. Recently, Spin magazine streamed their new album, The Valley. Both of these pieces of information would directly indicate that they have done alright for themselves in the music world. But, even after the show at the Vinyl had ended, they still waited around to meet fans, take photographs, sign posters and T-shirts and to just become acquainted with those who find meaning in the songs performed on stage. That’s something that the music world needs plenty more of: a close connection between the musicians and the fans, and a sense of strong community amongst the two sides of the spectrum. Eisley has improved musically and gained more success along the way, but they still haven’t lost connection with those who help them thrive and flourish as musicians.