Mount Eerie and Jason Anderson deliver intimate performances at Badlands

Review: Acclaimed Washington indie rockers and lesser-known-but-just-as-entertaining New Hampshire singer-songwriter filled the small venue with big energy on Tuesday.

Photo: Alyssa McKinley
Jason Anderson captures the attention of a Badlands crowd with his unique stage presence.

Syracuse student run radio station, WERW, puts on several concerts that cater to the alternative rock crowd each year. They kicked this semester off with performances from Jason Anderson and Mount Eerie at Badlands, just a few blocks off campus. 

The small venue filled up rather quickly, but not with the usual crowd of Syracuse University students. The lineup drew a crowd that traveled from all over Central New York to catch their intimate sets.  

Headliners, Mount Eerie are currently touring in support of their recent release, Clear Moon, which was named Best New Music by Pitchfork. Their folk inspired blend of post-rock fronted by Phil Elverum has a lineup that is ever changing. 

Doors opened early for an 8 p.m. start but the first act, Jason Anderson, was late after hitting traffic on his drive from New Hampshire. As soon as he took the stage, the wait was proven to be well worth it. While it seemed most of the crowd traveled to see Mount Eerie, the second that Anderson began to play, the audience took notice. 

With a burly beard, dressed in flannel and wearing old running shoes, there was something oddly striking about Andersons presence. While he stood on a chair surrounded by strangers, he let the power of his voice and the honesty of his lyrics fill every crevice of the room.

Anderson played for almost an hour, but the audience stayed focused on his performance. Around halfway through his set, he taught the crowd a refrain of one of his songs. By the end of it, everyone sang, “We’re so close to the edge,” while Anderson sang a different verse layered above their voices.

It was easy to see that the crowd was not only impressed but also moved by Anderson’s performance. Before he gave the stage to Mount Eerie, Anderson left with the words, “The more that I play music, the more that I realize that we live in an increasingly isolated world. But if you can get a couple-dozen people together in upstate New York, feeling something for a change, it’s not so bad.”

Within only a few minutes of the cozy, close-quartered room buzzing with excitement over Anderson’s performance, Mount Eerie began to play. Less interactive and humorous than Anderson, but almost as attention demanding, Mount Eerie let the music speak for itself.

After playing a few songs off of their upcoming release, frontman Elverum checked in with the crowd, “I feel like we’ve been standing up here playing and I didn’t say 'hello' enough. I’ll spare you my usual rambling and just say that it’s amazing to be here, and I hope that this is working for you.”

Where Anderson’s performance was quirky and interactive, Mount Eerie’s was haunting. Their blend of post-rock has a little bit more folk flavor and rocks a little bit harder than their contemporaries. Intricately layered instruments and chilling harmonies defined the performance.

Despite the crowd being more stoic during Mount Eerie’s performance, when the band quietly ended their set, the conversations that filled Badlands proved that they were having an amazing time just soaking the music in.

Not your typical Tuesday night in Syracuse, WERW provided music fans in the CNY region with a one of a kind concert experience. While Mount Eerie is amidst a full U.S. tour, and Jason Anderson kicked off a tour of his own with the Badlands show, it is hard to imagine another crowd so intent or another venue so intimate.


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