Another month means another Sofar Sounds show, and March’s offered a trinity of homegrown folk and bluegrass. First up was Tall Heights, a Boston-based guitar and cello duo. Simply put, I’ve never met two voices more perfectly matched to one another. Singing seamlessly in unison or close harmony, the two presented vocals tight enough to rival Simon and Garfunkel… but thankfully without black turtlenecks or awkward power struggles.* Beyond their handwritten tunes, Tall Heights somehow managed to add new layers of meaning to an already moving song, with their cover of The Beatles’ “Yesterday.” Tall Heights’ short and sweet set at Sofar left us only wanting more, and luckily we’ll be catching them again soon at the Sinclair on April 10th.
Next to take the “stage” (which in this case was an oriental rug), was Darlingside, an indie-folk quartet out of Cambridge. Darlingside’s live performance is spirited, maybe even explosive, in a way that you may not expect from a spin of their record. The four Darlingside dudes rapidly jump in and out of the spotlight, both on vocals and their arsenal of string instruments, which creates a viewing experience not unlike watching a ping-pong match. Whimsical lyrics and lush harmonies evoke 1960s Laurel Canyon, which only makes sense considering Graham Nash’s recent endorsement of the band as nothing less than “delicious.” While Darlingside’s music is thoughtfully informed by the past, their inventive arrangements solidify their position as a forward-thinking, label-defying staple on the Boston music scene.
Last to play was Poor Old Shine, a five-man motley crew out of Connecticut. All stretched collars, wide eyes and boyish charm, the bluegrass outfit may lack a bit of, well, shine, but their rugged performance style only made them easier to love. PoS performs with a crazed energy and uninhibited joy, and that joy quickly became infectious in the crowd. And while their stage presence is youthful, their musicianship is first-class; they wielded instruments like banjos, mandolins, a pump organ, and even a singing saw to round out each track. Brimming with both talent and excitement, Poor Old Shine’s future is clearly bright.
*While we’re on the topic, THIS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sKfosGec4Y.