The raw, bare brick walls that make up Mercury Lounge form the perfect backdrop for ON AN ON to perform its debut, Give In. It’s dark and eerie, but with a tunnel of light flowing in from the entrance. Small groups of people make their way toward the stage, Field Mouse plays several swooning pop tracks and then suddenly the place is full. The members of ON AN ON are calm and confident as they make their way up.
First introduced to the U.S. as part of Scattered Trees in 2006, the trio of Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci and Ryne Estwing has quickly established its own distinct identity under the ON AN ON name. The band opens with the soaring single, “The Hunter,” and the room erupts in applause. The bass-heavy track pulses with a roaring drumbeat and is complimented with electrifying lighting that helps control the push-and-pull of emotion throughout the performance.
The band’s floaty dream pop vibe is established through the next offerings, “War Is Gone” and “American Dream.” They seem to be enjoying themselves, finding solidarity in melancholy. Ricci bops along, a cheeky smile on her face and her dark hair flowing. Estwing’s eyes are closed, and he leans on his heels while lead singer Eiesland occasionally jumps around or tilts down to adjust his synth deck. Mostly he seems absorbed, pulling on our heartstrings. There is little time in between play, only the occasional murmur of “Thanks.”
The crowd is swaying by “All The Horses.” The band creates luscious layers with fuzzy guitar lines and ghostly synths; the backdrop now black-and-white hypnotic wheels. Suddenly, webbed lighting engulfs the stage. Ricci’s eerie vocals open “Cops” before Eiesland takes over and the band unveils a cohesive journey of love and loss. It explodes with haunting harmonies and gauzy falsettos.
Halfway through the set, Eiesland announces, “This is a Hot Chip song.” He then brings out the percussion shakers for a striped-down version of “And I Was A Boy From School.” He’s suddenly dancing across the stage with members of the crowd joining in. When the eagerly awaited “Ghosts” is finally played, the lyrics are on everybody’s lips. White light slowly flickers behind the band, metaphoric of Eiesland’s mournful words: “Every day the ghosts are going to fly/Every way I know I’m going to try.” Through sprightly cymbals and shimmering layers of guitar, the song delivers a sense of mobility and free spirit. That sensibility is echoed in the concluding track “Every Song.” Eiesland closes his eyes and howls, “So take me out of here.” The audience is transfixed, transported into the band’s chilling other world of determination and power. It’s a world that’s guaranteed to linger.