Talent isn’t easy to define, but once you see it, you know immediately. Leaves of Green, an NYU-based folk four-piece, practically oozes it. Like a mixture of Grizzly Bear, Beirut, and The National, the band forges its own musical path while still looking to the past for inspiration. To call it “the next big thing” would be premature and perhaps speculative, but after Saturday night’s performance at Earth House, it was clear that these guys deserve major praise.
Two Wesleyan student bands opened for Leaves of Green: Blackbird and the Cherry Tree, followed by O Presidente. Based out of both Wesleyan and San Francisco, O Presidente draws from a variety of genres across countries and decades, including tropicalia and garage rock. Its eclectic sound—powerful without being heavy-handed or overly intense—was perfect for a smaller venue like Earth House.
Speaking of the space, Earth House was utterly packed to the point where it was nearly impossible to move if you somehow made your way to the main room. Oddly enough, however, the crowd cleared out somewhat by the time Leaves of Green came to the stage, a major mistake on the part of those who decided to leave early.
Still, even with a somewhat smaller crowd, Leaves of Green brought a lively, enthralling set to Earth House, opening with a stunning cover of Bon Iver’s “Lump Sum” that took the acoustic track and injected it with a new energy. The rest of the set was mostly composed of the band’s original material off its debut EP, End of The Actor.
What made the show so interesting, especially for those familiar with the band’s work, was how much more powerful the band sounded live than on its records. “Any Man,” which was recorded as a dark, folky piece, sounded like a track that would fit into a Tarantino movie. “Sad to Surrender,” a quiet, lush piece, was just as gorgeous onstage as it was in recording. “Caving In” is possibly the band’s strongest piece, and still works just as perfectly live; James Madole’s falsetto moves rapidly from inviting to enraged as the song crescendos toward its finish.
Perhaps the most refreshing thing about Leaves of Green’s set (and the night in general) was just how much it rocked. Whether it was O Presidente’s grit or Leaves of Green’s polish, the concert felt fresh, like a rebuttal to anyone who declares that rock is dead. Although looking ahead when it comes to music is never easy, it wouldn’t be surprising if Leaves of Green gains a considerable amount of traction in the coming months. The band certainly deserves it.