When: Fri., April 3 2015
SYLVAN ESSO/ALT-J | FRIDAY, APRIL 3
CARRBORO TOWN COMMONS, CARRBORO/RED HAT AMPHITHEATER, RALEIGH—A little worry on behalf of Durham duo Sylvan Esso might have been understandable. In December, the pair of Nick Sanborn and Amelia Randall Meath announced they'd be playing an outdoor concert in Carrboro Town Commons, essentially kicking off the season of outdoor shows with an early April bid. The anxiety, though, would have stemmed from the news three weeks earlier that alt-j, the much-loved electronic indie pop act from Leeds, would play the same evening at Raleigh's Red Hat Amphitheater. An international touring act who hasn't visited the region since the start of 2013 versus locals who played consecutive shows in October and who you might see soon wondering the aisles of the new Durham co-op: How would your neighbors fare?
As it turns out, very well: Sylvan Esso sold their outdoor show out nearly a week in advance. They moved 4,500 tickets, an astounding figure for any local act and one that makes their next logical step seem to be one of Raleigh's big outdoor spaces.
Speaking of which, alt-j sold out its own show with a capacity of 6,000 weeks ago. That's surprising in its own right, as the English quartet indulged their art-rock impulses on last year's This is All Yours much more than on their popular debut. That album works from frame-bending electronica to esoteric acoustic experiments, from idiosyncratic vocal effects to, on occasion, a moment of pop bliss. Despite several good singles, it produced little in the way of their debut's "Tessellate" or "Matilda," hits that still linger like anthems years later. It was a more interesting album than its predecessor for the future it portended if not the present it offered. If alt-j experienced the sophomore slump, it wasn't for lack of ideas or interests as much as it was for their own unchecked enthusiasms. And so far, it seems to have impacted their marketability very little, at least for an early spring evening in North Carolina, when one of the region's most popular acts is playing not far away. Sylvan Esso with Flock of Dimes and Ivan Howard: 6 p.m., $10, 301 W. Main St., Carrboro, 919-967-9053, www.catscradle.com. alt-j with Tycho: 8 p.m., $25–$35, 500 S. McDowell St., Raleigh, 919-996-8800, www.redhatamphitheater.com. —Grayson Haver Currin