It was so peaceful at The Staves’ performance on Wednesday, you could hear a pin drop — or the nervous murmurings of Cubs fans awaiting their team’s fate.
The trio of sisters hailing from England have a reputation for music that is so minimal compositionally, yet so enriching from their frequent use of harmony and striking, abstract lyricism. Their performance at the Majestic Wednesday only confirmed this reputation and then some. By golly, can those women sing.
On their own they are accomplished vocalists. When they sing together the effect should be threefold, but it’s really tenfold. But more on that later.
First two local acts, curated by The Staves themselves via a contest days prior, warmed up the stage. Among the Wild took the stage first, followed by Gloss Coats.
Among the Wild presented the crowd with something more familiar to what The Staves bring the table, whereas Gloss Coats was definitely something different.
Gloss Coats, a relative newcomer to Madison’s music scene, is one to look out for. Their songs blend tense alt-rock with dreamy psych-pop, and wash layers of sound over the listener. Their lead vocals, alternating and harmonizing between male and female, also add another psych quality to the music. Currents by Tame Impala-meets-Pearl Jam might be a good way to start describing Gloss Coats.
Regardless, they won over the crowd before bowing out to The Staves.
The sisters came on with a playful nonchalance to raucous fanfare. One attendee proclaimed her love for one of sisters, prompting a “what about us” response from the other two. This typical English banter set the tone for the rest of the interactions between the performers and the crowd.
Their performances of songs were an entirely different story. While the Staves joked around between songs, there was no playing around while they performed.
Alongside their immensely talented drummer, each sister took up a different instrument. Through modulated guitars, keyboards and microphones, the Staves were able to perfectly recreate their studio recordings for their awestruck Majestic crowd.
Far from recreations, actually, The Staves’ performances of their songs took on a life of their own on Wednesday. The trio breathed life into their tracks through their amazing vocals which can only truly be appreciated live.
Seeing the three sisters intertwine their voices together confirms and justifies how much effort the group puts into their vocal arrangements. Each track is carefully proportioned to have just the right amount of solo and unison parts in order to leave a devastating impact on the audience.
They harmonize with the understanding that they are all equals. There is no actual lead vocalist or back up. There are only three sisters, equals in genius and talent, singing together as if they were destined to sing together.
Considering The Staves are actually siblings, perhaps destiny isn’t out of the question at all.