Sapling played a triumph of a set at Starlite Gallery in Southbridge on Saturday, and it was truly something wonderful to behold with them bringing their special blend of bitchpop, art rock, and ”bad jazz” to the bar. The opening bands were Mesmers, Droplets, and Bunnies, each of them bringing something unique to the table. By the time Sapling played, a small crowd had gathered in the space that boasts a stage on the back wall with a great sound system, rotating lights, and projections of the performers. Sapling is made up of 3 members, Amber mostly on vocals, guitar, and a theremin, Jon mostly on drums, and Rainy mostly on bass and vocals. I say mostly because they are all skilled multi-instrumentalists.
The band members are highly proficient at all their instruments, they play together with a well-practiced ease. It’s clear they enjoy performing together and enjoy each other’s company. The three of them were even seen cuddling in a group hug during the end of Bunnies’ set. They really do like each other. During our interview, there was lots of laughter between the three of them. This camaraderie shines through in their music making their set sound tight and well-oiled.
Sapling has great catchy song lyrics with songs like A Fox Upon the Tomb which has the lyrics “I have an IUD and a gun. Okay, okay, I don’t have a gun. But what if I did? What have I done? Wouldn’t it be fun?” at the beginning and the end of the song is a refrain that sounds like an unhinged flight announcement “anxiety is a personal failure, please continue to follow all norms.” Their song lyrics are cutting-edge clever with lines such as “If a tree falls in the woods and David Foster Wallace isn’t around to consider it, is it unethical to eat it.” Or “Don’t call me a Socialist, I’m an undercover archaeologist.”
The band has great dada banter and riffs off crowd participation, feeding of the audience’s energy. Early in the show they made announcements “If you can’t get past the gender binary, pull your head out of your ass” and “if you are transphobic, lose my business card!” For a while, Rainy bantered in Spanish speculating with an audience member about the difference between a Choco Taco and tacos de leche. Later in the show, that audience member proclaimed, “I’ve never heard it this loud before—it’s loco!” There was also some banter about being tall enough to play basketball and an entire bit about anxiety.
During the final song of the show, each of the band members got up from their instrument and switched it for another—an impressive bit of showmanship. Amber went from playing the theremin to a side wall with drop cloths where she was absolutely doused in paint and glitter by audience members, then she returned to the theremin where they finished up the set with some wild noise. It was an awesome ending to a great show. Sapling’s next show is September 17th at Electric Haze in Worcester with Tysk Tysk Task and Crow Follow. Everyone should see Sapling live at least once!