“Sylvan Esso” delivers a new sound to Calvin

Student Activity Office(SAO) hosted Sylvan Esso for a concert on Calvin’s campus on Friday, September 25 at 8 p.m. Amelia Meath (vocals) of Mountain Man and Nick Sanbourn (instrumentals and production) of “Megafaun” make up the independent pop duo from Durham, N.C. The band is a fairly new project, yet they are surprisingly successful for having only started in 2013. Their premiere self-titled and self-produced album, which was recorded in Sanbourn’s bedroom, was released in May 2014, after which they made their first TV appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” with the song “Coffee.”

If you’ve ever attended a concert at Calvin, you would notice the distinct sense of community that’s created between the crowd and the performers. “Sylvan Esso” will not disappoint in creating a unique and inviting atmosphere for those who attend. Their sound bends and melds genres: part pop, part dance and part indie. Sylvan Esso’s music is easy to listen to and accessible to a wide range of listeners and music tastes.  

In a conversation about the band, John Williamson, SAO’s research and program coordinator, shed some light on Sylvan Esso’s unique imprint on the indie-music world:  “I think part of what is attractive to us about Sylvan Esso is sonic. … I think their greatest strength is the mood they create. … Hopefully, for some students, this is inviting them to engage with a different kind of music. Hopefully we are providing a different vibe, a different feel, a different way of finding joy in music than we sometimes do.”

Ken Heffner, director of student activities, mentioned Sylvan Esso’s pop-dance sound: “They have a pretty wide-ranging sound. They can be very dancey—there’s a lot of EDM influence. … We want to encourage dancing.”

Williamson added, “Not all their songs demand to be danced to, but people will want to move, especially if they’re fans of the show. I think it will be fun.”

Amelia Meath, the vocalist, dances continually throughout her performances. Her quirky moves will be sure to inspire movement in the crowd. “She is always moving,” said Williamson, “and that is perhaps a part of her performance, but she is not reliant on that as many female performers are asked or required to be by the music industry. … I think we value bringing artists with a female front-woman who isn’t decoration or a token female member. [Meath] is a strong, independent female performer who is thoughtful about her music and is not dependent on sort of a sexuality or sensuality.”

Another unique opportunity that SAO provides to Calvin students is a conversation with the artist before the show. Heffner commented, “I think Amelia Meath will be an interesting conversation. She is very articulate and has a vision of what she’s doing. She also has a great stage presence. So I’m looking forward to watching what she does as well as hearing what she says about her work.” The conversation with Sylvan Esso will begin at 6 p.m. in the choir room (CFAC 115).

Whether you’re looking for a time to relax, to dance or just to listen, Sylvan Esso promises to bring a captivating, unique performance and a superior sound quality to the stage.

This concert was part of SAO’s fall concert series. Calvin’s Student Activities Office is committed to bringing in high quality artists to campus for students. They provide engaging, interesting and thoughtful films and concerts for the Calvin community. This fall’s concert season is packed with captivating artists such as Nate Ruess from FUN., The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers, Drew Holcomb and Over the Rhine.