Concert review: Eisley (with Merriment) keeps it all in the family at Off Broadway, Thursday, July 12
Christie Dupree, little sister to the three Eisley sisters, and her brothers Collin and Weston Dupree, who together form Merriment, brought to Off Broadway‘s stage a set of tunes countrified, ornate and dreamy.
The band stood as a satisfying acoustic counterpart to Eisley, another band of Duprees. After a night of hearing all four Dupree sisters sing, it is easy to see why they are in the music business. “Through the Rough,” from the 2012 EP of the same name, played out as a haunting lilt with shades of country strife and clean pedal tones. When Weston’s drums dropped after the song’s opening, crisp guitar and palm-muted acoustic bled into a delightful swirl.
Merriment closed their set with the distortion-less “Rewind,” which featured uptempo drum clicks and Christie’s clean, soaring vocals. The girl did not miss a note, even the higher ones that often marked the end of her many heart-wary phrases, like “Takes more than luck to find a love like that.” The retro-rockabilly vibe of many of Christie’s tunes complemented Eisley with a diminished and un-affected set.
Eisley, the five-member band of Duprees, took the stage with “Smarter” from 2011′s “The Valley.” With a left arm full of tattoos, Sherri broke into the song’s woodsy power-punk opener, before Stacy King (nee Dupree) took over with a trebly microphone effect on her vocals. “I’m smarter than you think,” she declared. On “Lights Out,” from 2012′s “Deep Space” EP, cousin Garron’s bass accents folded under the whirling chorus and the vocal interplay between King and Sherri with resonant power.
King started into “The Valley” as Weston banged on a hi-hat. The song, concerned with falling in love just to fail to see “everything as right,” popped with a darkened surfer vibe and plenty of crystalline “Oh, oh’s.” I was struck by the number of people clutching cell phone cameras and recorders instead of simply blissing out to the music. “Better Love” offered up indulgent interplay between King and Sherri, who alternated vocals with sisterly understanding: “Make me a better love. Make me better love.” Sherri’s words often stood out as the biting “fuck-you” sentiments, whereas King’s embraced the romantic side, her vocals often distilling heartache and sadness into natural settings with a mystical — and emotionally evasive — mood.
“Marvelous Things” was laid-back, yet deeply concerned about staying, say, with a lover under the moonlight. The song provided a serene scaling chorus that featured both sisters singing in well-timed unison. Someone shouted, “I love you guys!” as Sherri sang about magical things that “give [her] the creeps.”
“Laugh it Off,” “Watch it Die,” and “Please” found Eisley in the middle of their set with a raft of tunes rife with existential quest. During “Sad,” dubbed as a “bitter love song” by Sherri, the microphones cut out, leaving the girls mute as their instruments bled over the crowd with a vocal-less power. Soon, the issue was resolved as “Oxygen Mask,” “I Could Be There for You” and “Mr Moon” sparked dancing and cheers.
The crowd sang along with Sherri on “I Wasn’t Prepared,” from 2005′s “Room Noises” until Sherri stopped and declared, “You guys sound awesome.” King dropped a fine piano solo as Sherri poured a “come back to me my darling” sentiment into the microphone. “Ambulance” featured King on vocals in the emotional space of being felled by a busted relationship. “Golly Sandra” allowed Eisley to step out of their normal hard-hitting punk grooves with a little country-style a la younger sister Christie.
“Deep Space” marked the end of Eisley’s set, a warm bass buzz trailing the band off stage, followed by the audience insisting on a two-song encore. On “192 Days,” Chauntelle stood with an acoustic as King and Sherri sang about “preserve[ing] the memory of you and me and our love.” “I Wish” finished things out and, compared to its power-house studio counterpart, satisfied in a quiet, sparkling way.
Eisley’s final two songs were much sweeter than the majority of Eisley’s set, as if the stylistically-different tunes might support a side project for the sisters. I hope to see more of this kind of work from Eisley, who prove they can harness both angst-riddled girl power-punk and emotional, western-style love songs with ease and skill.