By Hailey Nuthals, Highlighter Editor
This past Friday at Rough Trade marked the 40th show in New York City for indie folk band Darlingside, though the occasion wasn’t quite as fantastic as they might have hoped. Mandolin-ist / violinist / vocalist Auyon Mukharji had unfortunately developed a case of pneumonia – though while he refrained from singing his usual share of the band’s characteristic four-part harmonies, he managed to still contribute his instrumental parts for the entire set. (Is there an award for performing during near-death illnesses? There should be, and the latest installment should definitely go to Mukharji.)
The rest of the band was thankfully not stricken with illness, and their good cheer and camaraderie were immediately infectious. Gathered closely around a single microphone, it was hard not to smile and let yourself be transported to an alternate universe where everything smelled like blooming lilacs and summer bonfires. In between songs, good-natured jokes from Harris Paseltiner (cello, guitar, and vocals) about kombucha and other Brooklyn staples drew a hearty laugh from the crowd.
The music itself was fabulous – with such layered harmonies in their music, especially on their latest album “Birds Say,” one might have worried that the level of depth would be lost in the heat of performance. No such drop in quality was present – each chord was beautifully filled out, and the balance between vocals and each carefully crafted instrument was audible from all corners of the room. Everything from the gentle picking of Mukharji’s mandolin to the foundational thrumming of David Senft’s bass was given its due moment to shine without appearing out of place or jolting. Even the ambient sounds that are almost unplacable on “Birds Say” were pulled off under guitarist / banjo player Don Mitchell’s hands. The sound the four of them produced was practically more than could believably come from that many hands, but it was undeniably live, and undeniably fantastic.
Through a set containing hits from their latest album as well as their debut “Pilot Machines,” the lads charmed their way from song to song. One song even featured guest and friend Jonathan Dely on trumpet (the boys had apparently always dreamed of performing with a trumpet alongside them, so it was a big moment), as they were challenging the notion their music couldn’t get any better.
From the delighted grins during “Harrison Ford” to the dreamy swaying during “White Horses,” and the chuckles of laughter in between each piece, the crowd was swooning at everything Darlingside did. If those in attendance hadn’t come specifically to see the lads, they certainly left glad that they had.
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