On Saturday night, dark-folk magic unfolded inside Brooklyn’s psychedelic playhouse venue, Glasslands. In the high-ceilinged but cozy space, fans patiently waited, grabbing cool beers and hawking the merch table lit in shimmery white Christmas lights, or loitering around the empty DJ booth and chattered with excitement.
Up first was Zachary Cale, warming the crowd with urban folk ballads, meshed with elements of old country but infused with a modern sensibility. Featuring Southern organ-twisted synths, adorning guitar strums and a rock-steady attitude, Cale established the quelling energy for the show. His Louisiana influences brought a fresh perspective for the sets to follow.
After that, hometown heroes Amen Dunes took the stage and played a succinct set of dreamy tracks. Overlayed with echoes from steel guitar strings and beckoning vocals, leader Damon McMahon’s lo-fi, psychedelic sounds were very fitting for the venue. The trio pulsed with the spirit of an authentic garage rock band, intwined with experimental reverb and folky vibes that retained the singer/songwriter aesthetic of the evening.
At last, Marissa Nadler finished out the night with a highly anticipated performance, given the very recent release of her most fleshed-out album yet, July. The Boston-based singer/songwriter took the stage and established a glittery vibe, all equipped with a cellist, violinist, three acoustic guitars (including a 12-string) and a general aura of brilliance. Despite some feedback issues, Nadler blew out the speakers with her comfy fingerpicking, seamless and airy vocals, all etched in honest and naked lyricism. She started her set with a string of inspiring tales of intricate and thoughtful confessions of summer love and loss. Possibly the darkest and heaviest piece of the night, Dead City Emily, set the room ablaze with sterling steel-guitar notes and a quiet stature that created an overall atmosphere of beautiful horror. The track resembled a moment of sonorous surrealism, releasing a smokey siren song onto a crowd of lonely hearts. Nadler’s warm, calm but commanding voice, acoustic sounds and her accompanying string duo—both haunting and piercing—made for a an earthy and phenomenal set.
Photos by Nancy Musinguzi