Boston, Mass art-rockers Bent Knee, supporting their latest album, You Know What They Mean, played to a sold-out crowd at Three Links on Saturday night. As their album is a complicated, experimental offering full of layers of instruments and sound, I was curious as to how the band could replicate it live. They did so flawlessly. Led by vocalist/keyboardist Courtney Swain, the band showed that their Berklee College of Music education and 18 previous shows on this tour have paid off. Swain and her band, Chris Baum (violin), Jessica Kion (bass), Ben Levin (guitar), Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth (drums), and Vince Welch (sound design), were sharp and inspired.
Their set focused on songs from You Know What They Mean and the band didn’t just replicate the recorded songs, but elevated them with the natural energy that comes from a live performance. The band was exciting. Each musician not only carried their weight, but also brought an infectious enthusiasm along with them. Swains voice was full and powerful as it ascended above the instruments or blended alongside them. The crowd on hand had obviously learned the new record as they sang along or responded with each coda or crescendo with head-nodding or perfectly in-sync dancing. As nearly each member of the band was playing with a huge smile on their face, it was obvious that they appreciated the Dallas crowd’s reaction. They’re certainly a band to see anytime they’re in town.
Progressive rockers Thank You Scientist followed Bent Knee’s set with a performance that largely drew on material from June’s Terraformer release. Another large band, featuring trumpet, sax, guitar, bass, drums, and electric violin, Thank You Scientist clearly had a large contingent of fans on hand for their set. Having toured with Bent Knee in the past, Thank You Scientist is a good touring partner. Where they are a tad less art-rocky than Bent Knee, the band is full of skilled musicians who clearly know their way around their instruments. Like Bent Knee’s set, the crowd responded to the band enthusiastically. They knew each word to every song and relished the opportunity to see them in an intimate venue.
– J. Kevin Lynch (words); Lauren Frederick (photos)
Thank You Scientist and Bent Knee Tour Dates
December 3 Atlanta, GA Purgatory at The Masquerade
December 4 Tampa, FL Crowbar
December 6 Charlotte, NC State Theatre
December 7 Richmond, VA Canal Club
December 8 Washington, DC Union Stage
December 10 Pittsburgh, PA Thunderbird Music Hall
December 11 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts
December 12 Fairfield, CT StageOne
December 13 Asbury Park, NJ Asbury Lanes
December 14 New York, NY Mercury Lounge