The Lonely Forest
A LocalBozo.com Concert Review
Mercury Lounge, New York, NY
October 22, 2013
Concert Review: The Lonely Forest at Mercury Lounge
With support from fellow Washingtonites Cumulus, pacific northwestern rock outfit The Lonely Forest took centerstage with particular enthusiasm on Tuesday night, headlining the late show at Mercury Lounge. Their sound has been described as indie and piano driven, but candidly, to label the band either of these would be a bit misleading. Instead, we’d prefer to reflect upon an original, particularly impassioned performance giving a warts-and-all glimpse into a band that continues to stabilize their footing with each passing show. And as the moments ticked away throughout the band’s hour long set, their ability to write meaningful lyrics and captivate a live audience became crystallized.
Despite an approximated 10:30pm start time, the band hit the stage well after the 11pm witching hour. The strong relationship forged by the long time friends was quickly evidenced by the group’s genuine admiration for each other, palpable as soon as the show began. Taking their positions on stage, the group opened with “Far Outer Banks,” a drum-led romp that in this setting surpassed the sort of recording studio containment that can often reel in a band’s energy and style. In fact, the live show pleasantly rocked much harder than we had anticipated, allowing the group to enjoy the kind of energetic release that you would associate with any band reveling in this setting- a headlining gig in Manhattan.
From the initially slow and then faster paced “Fire-Starter” to the vocally driven “Turn Off This Song and Go Outside,” the band showed flashes of brilliance as the show progressed. Manning the keyboard and rhythm guitar and lead vocals is certainly no easy task but frontman John Van Deusen managed to harness these talents capably, despite a sometimes sheepish stage presence between songs. It’s almost as if Mark Zuckerberg started his own rock band, but once the first chords began, Zuckerberg morphed into a Dave Grohl- his unmistakable fire oozing from his every chord progression.
Backed by the masterful compliment of Tony Ruland’s lead guitar, there were times when you couldn’t sit still as the pair pranced around on stage toward each other, uniquely feeding off of the other’s speedy electric riff. The howling versions of “Let It Go” and “Live There” sandwiched the group’s rendition of “Warm/Happy,” the catchy and upbeat lead single from their most recent release, October’s “Adding Up the Wasted Hours.” The Lonely Forest touched upon each of the releases from their handful of albums catalog, culminating in a rocking version of “We Sing In Time” to close the show. The gathered crowd seemed inspired by the band up on stage, as almost the entire standing room floor danced in place as the set neared its conclusion, rallied by The Lonely Forest, who allowed many of us in the Mercury Lounge to have as much fun on this night as it seemed that they were having performing together on stage.