I went with my daughter to see these four young men called Darlingside last night at the excellent Rockwood Music Hall in lower Manhattan. It’s a clever but lousy name. Darlingside, I mean. Rockwood is a clever and excellent name. We were there at the invitation of the author, John Seabrook, who is writing about the band for the New Yorker, who was there with his son Harry. Lucy and Harry were born two months apart 16 and a half years ago, and have grown up together in many ways. Rockwood is a 21+ venue. Special exceptions were granted. They were the youngest people in the room, surely, just as John and I were probably, statistically at least, the tallest. And maybe the oldest, now that I think about it.
John knew about Darlingside because his wife’s niece went to college with them recently at Williams. They’re very cute and apparently the kids at Williams thought they were great. These two things aren’t unrelated, but cuteness doesn’t diminish their skills. They are talented multi instrumentalists and harmonizers. Their first album came out yesterday and the show we saw was their first on their record-release tour. All of which is supposed to suggest that I didn’t know much about them until I listened to the album yesterday. It is full of very smart lyrics, and soft but engaging arrangements and vocals. In other words, it is not rock.
But watching their lovely show, which was thoroughly enjoyable and displayed a sense of humor the earnest songs on the album don’t, it was kind of easy to project back a few years to a band that was perhaps a little edgier, a lot less interested in being lovely and a lot more interested in telling it like it is. With drums.
Today my daughter found this old (from 2012) music video from Darlingside. It’s not hard rock by any stretch, but it’s a strong song with a rock beat and a sharp video that came way too late to hit the indie boom. But the harmonies are still front and center, and delightful, as is the dark storyline with a happy ending. This, I think, is Darlingside.