Watchhouse @ The Ark (concert review by Laura T.)

This Sunday, I entered the legendary Ark to watch Watchhouse (fka Mandolin Orange) perform, supported by folk-singer songwriter Erin Rae. The intimate seating provided for a warm, intimate performance from Erin, as she chatted back and forth with the audience on the pronunciation of limoncello and played cosmic country and acoustic indie with refreshing lyrics. Sounding uncannily similar to Adrienne Lenker, I was definitely convinced to take a listen to her new release, Lighten Up.

 

The house lights went up after her set, and soon after, Watchhouse–composed of Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz–walked on stage joined by three touring musicians. What followed was a beautiful and charming set that exceeded all my expectations, as this was my first folk or americana concert. Barely communicating with each other, each member circled a single mic (save for the upright bass, which had its own mic), advancing and walking away to do their own mixing. They even would go on their toes when soloing to put their instruments in center stage. Andrew played his mandolin the entire time, while Emily would switch between a violin and her guitar, and two of the touring musicians would trade between guitars, a cello, and even an acoustic bass. This all happened seamlessly, making the performance transform from a musical performance to a dance.

 

Their music was filled with thoughtful lyrics balanced by their emotional instrumentation. Watchhouse’s songs are ones that I can imagine playing along a story book, with their whimsical structures and endings that left you wanting more. Songs’ subjects ranged from love, to children, to cyberbullies. It was an incredible treat to hear their thought processes behind each song, and learning their goals of what they intended to communicate added such a valuable layer to hearing their music, especially the ones I had not listened to before.

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