Dark Dark Dark, Emily Wells, & Small Sur: Concert Review

The Metro Gallery is nestled snugly on the corner of Lanvale and North Charles street; it, like all of Baltimore's best features is easy to overlook. Nevertheless, it is a perfect venue for an intimate show because of it's open layout, well balanced sound, and a great sense of presentation for the contemporary art is regularly displays. The current featured visual artist in the space is Zoe Friedman and her show is entitled Alchemy/Chemistry. From an outside perspective Baltimore is a town of mixed reputation, but when you dig a little deeper you'll find a core of Baltimoreans who support the scene of independent music and art. It is this quiet pulse which keeps the city alive, and continues to bring in, and grow talent like this.

The local opener was Small Sur – they are comprised of Bob Keal, Austin Stahl, Andy Abelow with help from Susan Alcorn, Kate Barutha, Geoff Graham, Matt Hopkins, Jamie Saltsman, Andy Stack, Natasha Tylea, Jenn Wasner. Small Sur is taking slowcore's bearded sensitivity to new heights in Baltimore. Small Sur's style is reminiscent of Iron and Wine if Sam Beam went swimming in an ocean of reverb. Their second full length album is entitled Tones and is available to be heard and purchased here. Kick back, give the guys a listen, and sculpt your beard while you enjoy the album.

Following this, the audience was treated to the lovely and intricate Emily Wells. With a table full of pedals, drums, midi keyboards, a violin, melodica, and a well placed glass of scotch, Emily Wells constructed her set one layer at a time to show Baltimore the dangerous side of live music making. Ms. Wells is an artist who works in loop pedals and layers to build her backing band live as she performs. When I talk about music performances being dangerous, I'm talking about this – Music is a live art and performance pressure requires the accurate execution of your craft when the time matters. If any of these gestures were to go astray during their initial statement, the audience would be confronted by this mistake repeatedly until the song's conclusion. Are you feeling the pressure yet?

Emily Wells possess a sultry voice with the cut of a triangle and the looks of a tattooed Winona Ryder from Beetlejuice. She is one part Andrew Bird, one part Joanna Newsom and the rest pure creativity and intrigue. For me, the highlight of the set was her performance of Mama's Gonna Give You Love; I love this song for it's thick and infectious hook accompanied by melodica harmonies. Later in the set she would ask the audience, "Is Baltimore the kind of town you can dedicate a song to Little Kim?" It most definitely is. With that she covered Juicy by Notorious BIG – if you don't know we'll now you know…

Finally, Dark Dark Dark took the stage. The diverse orchestration and musical sensitivity that Dark Dark Dark wields makes for a musically satisfying concert experience. Their tasteful drummer lays out a variety of textures for the band to build upon, and build they do with banjo, piano, accordion, trumpet, clarinet, bass, and three part vocal harmonies. The Metro Gallery provided a perfect balance of intimacy and style. I hope that this is not the last time local audiences will be treated to the band. Dark Dark Dark's brand of melancholia was a perfect fit for a Sunday night in Baltimore.