By Matt Bennett
Roughly 1,520 miles from home, Darlingside, the four-piece band based out of Massachusetts, performs in the Capital City Monday, Dec. 7 at Manship Theatre. Aspects of the venue, however, might just remind the group of the house they lived in shortly after college. Both nurture the arts and both look out over impressive rivers. Regardless of the location, the quartet’s live shows always feel less like a big production and more like an intimate performance.
Band members Don Mitchell, Auyon Mukharji, Harris Paseltiner and David Senft were introduced at Williams College in western Massachusetts. Senft and Mukhari were freshman year roommates and eventually met Mitchell and Paseltiner via a singing group. Their influences covered a wide array of genres such as choral singing, street performance and even Celtic playing. Their melting pot of musical backgrounds paired with a common passion for all things songwriting served as the catalysts for the formation of Darlingside.
The phrase, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings,” popularized by William Faulkner and now heard in just about every English workshop class, actually helped coin the band’s name. The quote, which instructs writers against falling in love with very personalized aspects of their work, certainly intrigued the group’s members. Therefore, just like how pesticide kills pests, darlingcide must kill darlings, right? Not being totally on board with death they settled on Darlingside.
Not always a quartet, originally the group performed as a five-piece outfit with a drummer. On their first EP songs like “Good Man” and “Malea” couple striking vocals and a variety of subtle instrumentation with lively rhythmic percussion for quite a unique listening experience. Two years later, in 2012, the group expanded upon their distinctive sound with the release of their first full-length album Pilot Machines. On it their songs sound noticeably heavier, reminiscent of the band Snow Patrol minus the Irish accents.
In 2013, though, Darlingside moved forward without their close friend and drummer Sam Kapala. While the transition at first proved difficult it eventually helped truly shape their sound and highlight, even more so, their extensive musicianship. All of which comes through masterfully on their sophomore full-length album Birds Say released earlier this year.
Tracks like “Go Back” and “Harrison Ford” pair an abundance of vocal melodies with up-tempo instrumentation and even though neither song includes any acoustic drumming both still feel incredibly rhythmic. Even without drums, Darlingside’s music still features vocals in unison from all four members as well as banjo, bass, cello, guitar, mandolin and violin.
While their live shows could and very well should fill arenas one day, their performances still retain a very personalized quality about them and probably always will. Each venue becomes their home for the evening and every audience their new, extended family. The members themselves, playing their instruments side by side and singing simultaneously seem like not only band mates, not only close friends but brothers.
The show at Manship Theatre starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets cost $35. Don’t miss this one.