Play It Right
Briee Della Rocca interviews Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath ’10; edited by Keegan Ead
Sylvan Esso (led by singer-songwriter, Amelia Meath ’10) came as close to Bennington as any of their shows would bring them when they played to an adoring MASS MoCA crowd, just 40 miles from the College, in March. The show sold out faster than any of their other spring 2018 tour stops. Meath’s partner, Nick Sanborn, had a hunch. He joked during the show that the venue was probably shoulder-to-shoulder with Meath’s friends and family. He wasn’t too far off.
Front rows and aisles were packed with Bennington alumni, students, faculty, and staff who were as faithful fans as they were old friends. And if the cheers to inside Bennington references between songs were any indication of just how many from the Bennington community filled the rows, it was a lot. How many would know a Tom Bogdan warm-up vocal reference after all?
But sold-out venues are becoming the norm these days, with audiences far more familiar with the band’s songs, than with the band members. After their 2014 debut, self-titled album, SE was released, Sylvan Esso were guests on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Conan O’Brien Show, and were a favorite on NPR. The hit single “Coffee” helped SE reach 39th on the Billboard charts and seventh on the independent music charts.
Last year they released their second album, What Now, which earned the group their first Grammy nomination, and generated even more popular attention. The success of that album has Meath and Sanborn booking bigger shows and more of them. This summer they go on a shed tour, playing amphitheaters across the country. But success, as Meath defines it, has as much to do with her character as it does her music. A goal, she says, is to tour and keep playing without becoming a jerk.
When we reached out to Meath, inviting her to record an interview after the show, she was more than generous. She invited me to breakfast the next day. Recording at the Gramercy Bistro, Easter morning, Meath spoke about her time at Bennington, the influence of teachers and staff, what success looks like, and how she manages to maintain her voice and develop authentic work, even in the spotlight.
June 9 | Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival Manchester, TN
July 10 | Greek Theatre Los Angeles, CA
July 12 | Hearst Greek Theatre Berkeley, CA
July 13 | Edgefield Amphitheatre Troutdale, OR
July 14 | Marymoor Amphitheater Redmond, WA
July 16 | Knitting Factory Concert House Boise, ID
July 17 | Ogden Amphitheatre Ogden, UT
July 18 | Red Rocks Amphitheatre Morrison, CO
July 20 | Surly Brewing Co. Minneapolis, MN
July 21 | Pabst Theater Milwaukee, WI
July 22 | Pabst Theater Milwaukee, WI
July 22 | Riviera Theatre Chicago, IL
July 24 | Vic Theatre Chicago, IL
July 26 | The Anthem Washington, DC
July 27 | XPN Fest Philadelphia, PA
July 28 | Blue Hills Bank Pavilion Boston, MA
July 30 | Upstate Concert Hall Clifton Park, NY
July 31 | The Danforth Music Hall Toronto, Canada
August 1 | The Danforth Music Hall Toronto, Canada
August 2 | The Green At Shelburne Museum Burlington, VT
August 3 | Osheaga Music Festival Montreal, Canada
September 21 | Life Is Beautiful Las Vegas, NV
September 22 | Life Is Beautiful Las Vegas, NV
September 23 | Life Is Beautiful Las Vegas, NV