Midlake at Schubas: concert review and photos

The psych-folk band charges onward after losing its lead singer. The Texans didn't shy from its older material and offered new stuff from its proggy latest, Antiphon.

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  • Photograph: Zach Long

    Midlake play to a sold out crowd at Schubas, December 5, 2013

  • Photograph: Zach Long

    Midlake play to a sold out crowd at Schubas, December 5, 2013

  • Photograph: Zach Long

    Midlake play to a sold out crowd at Schubas, December 5, 2013

  • Photograph: Zach Long

    Midlake play to a sold out crowd at Schubas, December 5, 2013

  • Photograph: Zach Long

    Midlake play to a sold out crowd at Schubas, December 5, 2013

  • Photograph: Zach Long

    Midlake play to a sold out crowd at Schubas, December 5, 2013

  • Photograph: Zach Long

    Midlake play to a sold out crowd at Schubas, December 5, 2013

  • Photograph: Zach Long

    Midlake play to a sold out crowd at Schubas, December 5, 2013

  • Photograph: Zach Long

    Midlake play to a sold out crowd at Schubas, December 5, 2013

  • Photograph: Zach Long

    Sarah Jaffe turns in a stripped down set at Schubas, December 5, 2013

  • Photograph: Zach Long

    Sarah Jaffe turns in a stripped down set at Schubas, December 5, 2013

  • Photograph: Zach Long

    Sarah Jaffe turns in a stripped down set at Schubas, December 5, 2013

  • Photograph: Zach Long

    Midlake play to a sold out crowd at Schubas, December 5, 2013

Photograph: Zach Long

Midlake play to a sold out crowd at Schubas, December 5, 2013

Fresh starts can be hard to come by, but when former Midlake frontman Tim Smith left the group last year, the band's remaining members were left with no choice but to begin anew. Guitarist Eric Pulido took the reigns, guiding the Texas outfit through the recording of its fourth LP, Antiphon. A departure from the Jethro Tull–indebted folk of The Courage of Others, Midlake's newest album channels the lush prog-rock of groups like Pink Floyd and Camel. The six-piece band filled the stage at Schubas on Thursday night, introducing its reconfigured lineup to a sold-out crowd. Fellow Denton resident Sarah Jaffe opened up the evening with a performance that showcased her versatile voice. Clad in a hot pink Hawaiian shirt that seemed out of place among the festive wreaths and garlands adorning the concert hall, the native Texan praised the attentive crowd while bemoaning the frigid weather. Making her way through the pulsating synth-pop of "Defense" and the confessional balladry of "Vulnerable," Jaffe's confident demeanor commanded the attention of those in attendance, even as latecomers shuffled into the venue.


A fog machine filled the room with a thick haze before the members of Midlake squeezed onto the crowded stage. Without hesitation, Pulido launched into the gliding vocals of "Young Bride" with a calm approach that differentiated itself from Smith's original performance while preserving the essence of the composition. The band echoed this approach whenever it reached into its back catalog, fleshing out tracks like "Roscoe" and "The Courage of Others" with additional instrumentation that brought the songs in line with the group's latest material. Selections from Antiphon stood out against the older tracks, brimming with energetic rhythms and cascading synthesizers melodies. Songs like “Provider” and “It’s Going Down” seemed designed to utilize the abilities of each member of the group, reflecting the cooperative approach that Midlake employed while writing and recording them.


As on past records, the group’s newest songs are inspired by a very specific era of music, exploring the prog-rock sound without remaining tethered to it. “We’ve decided that we want to remember where we came from,” Pulido stated before leading the band in a rendition of “Kingfish Pies” from Midlake’s debut album, Bamnan & Silvercork. At Schubas, the band demonstrated just how far it has come and turned in a set that acknowledged the past while celebrating its new beginning.



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