Often as a concert photographer and now writer, I choose one band of the evening to focus my energy on. The bands, while there may be good comradery on tour and kind words exchanged before each set, are usually completely separate entities. Once in a while I’m pleasantly surprised by an evening that is so intimately tied together that you can’t divorce the performances from each other. Performances that demand to be addressed as a whole rather than cut into distinct pieces. Gordi and S. Carey put on one such performance to a sold-out crowd at DC9 Nightclubin Washington, D.C.
Recording music is a complex process. Tracking vocals correctly mastered against or over instruments assembled in such a way that the artists’ message and purpose come through is an art form that’s often overlooked by the consumer. The complexity of that process is what makes artists who assemble their songs live just that much more impressive. With no room for error, each loop builds upon the previous sound until suddenly the song emerges from the chaos. Australian native, Gordi, has a quiet initial stage presence; a guitar, loop/pedal board, and a small pump organ belie the power of her voice woven through songs with brutally honest and poignant lyrics as they are built live in front the audience. “Heaven I Know,” off her debut album Reservoir, perfectly demonstrated her ability to blend electronically manipulated loops to a backing voice carrying simple lyrics and feelings that everyone can identify with, and in the process completely capturing the attention of the crowd.
“Wear me, wear me out It’s all strung out You found what carried you Fall out, everyone fall out Get lost in this town Some road that’s getting worn At our feet, at our feet now ‘Cause I got older And we got tired Heaven I know that we tried Heaven I know…”
– GORDI “Heaven I Know”
Other songs of note from the evening were her folk influenced ballad, “Can We Work It Out,” and her single, “On My Side.” A sonic journey through inner melancholy, Gordi’s performance brought emotional weight to the beginning of the night setting the stage for the next act.
If you’ve been paying attention to the indie music scene of the past decade, the name Bon Iver should definitely have come across your radar. What you may not have realized is one of the key members is the multi-instrumentalist Sean Carey who also performs under his solo title S. Carey. S. Carey has all the mellow, approachable harmonies of an electronic influenced indie-folk sound, but with a depth that is all too often missing in the indie-pop scene. Deeply intimate yet channeling a vast atmospheric sound S. Carey’s music is a personal journey through the wild spaces he calls home in northern Wisconsin; lyrically filled with contemplation and subtle angst. Coming on the heels of the early-2018 release of his third full length album, Hundred Acres, the night’s tone wandered through a mix of new material as well as favorites from his past albums and EPs like “Alpenglow” and the title track “Hundred Acres.” Lyrics of hidden conflict and the angst of a troubled love presented an emotionally powerful contrast following the romantic certainty of the ballad “True North.” It’s performance gaining added weight from a full band and the added power of Gordi on supporting vocals.
“I’m in, I’m out, underground I found a crown all buried down Underneath, you know I don’t believe you When you say those words, I can’t do it From every point of view It all adds up And I won’t let up I wanna start anew I’m running the hard way All we need is a hundred acres And a row of seed All we need is a hundred acres And some room to breathe”
– S. CAREY “Hundred Acres”
The high point of the night came on the powerful performance of Gordi’s haunting duet/ballad, “I’m Done” which features S. Carey on backing vocals. S. Carey and company departed the evening to deafening applause from the crowd at DC9, and once again an evening of music the energy of which I can only hope was captured by the attached concert gallery. Check out the pictures below, and if you can find both Gordi and S. Carey on tour, or look to any major streaming platform to hear their music.