Discovered via Lantern

Tender Mercy/Bty Slp/Wintermute/Helicoid
January 25, 2019 @ The Green Latern

I remember a friend of mine once making a comment about getting stuck in listening to what he listened to in high school and college. At 40 something years old, music had become a mere portal to past memories.  The act of discovering new music was put aside, out of place in the world of career, chores, child rearing, etc. That’s certainly the way that a significant number of adults my age operate. But, it’s not true for all of us.

Discovery is one of my favorite aspects of going to shows.  Discovery of a band or songwriter who has been toiling away for some time, making the music you realize you needed to hear a while ago.

Such was the discovery I made at The Green Lantern in January. The evening was billed as the second release show for a self-titled split EP between Louisville’s Tender Mercy and Bloomington, Indiana’s Wintermute. During their respective sets, both Tender Mercy and Wintermute made a point of referring to the ep as a “convergence”--a bringing together of artists with mutual respect. The two decided that the joint ep reflects a history of sharing bills at various venues over the recent past. And it’s an unlikely convergence, stylistically. Tender Mercy’s ambient astral-folk doesn’t immediately reckon with Wintermute’s experimental post-punk. Yet, the surprising juxtaposition reflects our listening habits. I love putting on Elliott Smith after Sunny Day Real Estate. Or vice versa.

Tender Mercy, the longtime project of Mark Kramer, opened the show with songs featuring Kramer’s delicate, unassuming vocal accompanied by his equally unassuming guitar. On guitar, Kramer slows the tempo so as to emphasize the importance and the power of letting the tones reverberate.  Kramer’s confident delivery gives the illusion of time slowing down, as if the songs are organically developing on the spot. It’s exactly like those moments when you’ve carefully prepared what you wish to tell someone, but take your time to deliver the message, adding just the right emphasis at just the right moment, allowing an idea to hang for a second before moving to the next.

Wintermute brought heavy and gloomy post-punk from the heart of the midwest. The songs were loud and intense, brooding and grooving. And how cool is it for a bass player to sing backup vocals into a mic that has been extended above his head, forcing him to sing with neck cranked back?  The mic placement was clearly a choice adding an intensity to the performance that paired well with the music.

Lexington’s own Bty Slp and Helicoid filled the second and fourth spots in the lineup, respectively. In Bty Slp’s shoegaze, I found myself absolutely lost in wave of distorted sound waves. Helicoid, Nick Farr’s (Yellow Cuss) instrumental solo project, provided a master class in piecing together synth loops, guitar riffs,  and complex rhythms.

At the end of the night, I wonder, had my friend been with me, what he’d have said to me as we walked back to the car?

--Christopher Boss