This past Wednesday, I saw Milo Greene for the fourth time (second as a headliner) and was instantly and consistently reminded why I’ve seen them every chance I’ve had since love at first sight last fall. Their mystifying energy, heart-melting harmonies, and fully appreciative nature make this one of those bands you just want to experience every chance you get.
The energy in the Crocodile was positive, as I’d expect for a band possessing the positivity of Milo Greene. Their last headlining show at the beginning of 2012 was at the High Dive, which is a significantly smaller venue, so the band has obviously made strides with significant radio play and appearances on TV like the Late Show with David Letterman. Milo Greene were also riding a wave enhanced by the release of their self-titled album this summer.
Opening the show was Bahamas, the brain child of front man Afie Jurvanen featuring Jurvanen on guitar and vocals with Carleigh Aikins and Felicity Williams on accompanying vocals. I had checked out Bahamas’ latest release, Barchords, earlier in the week, but was pleasantly surprised by the way the album translated in the live performance. Jurvanen’s clean, beautiful guitar playing was only enhanced by his stage presence. Jurvanen is one of the most charismatic people you’ll ever see, possessing a quiet confidence that comes off as warm, simple, and entertaining. He calmly threw in comments throughout the night that were entertaining based on their simplicity and matter-of-factness, saying things like “This concert seems to be going pretty well” and “this next one is what we refer to in the business as a ‘slow song’”.
Milo Greene took the stage right on time to a house full of cheers and responded by playing what seemed like every track from their self-titled debut. The five-piece saw four of the members trading off guitars, percussion, and a keyboard while Curtis Marrero laid down drums. Robbie Arnett held a slight majority of the lead vocals and acoustic guitar, while Graham Fink provided primarily bass and vocals, Andrew Heringer specialized in electric guitar and vocals, and the beautiful Marlana Sheetz accompanied with vocals and a mix of guitars and keys.
The marquee point of the night, for me, was a performance of my favorite song, “Don’t You Give Up on Me”, which followed an intro complete with a jam of a song not on the album, “Staging Point”. Knowing that I’d hear it, but not expecting it so early in the set, I experienced goosebumps and a shortness of breath that comes as you get to experience a favorite song in person. This was the first time I’d seen Milo Greene after having a chance to fully immerse myself in their album, so this track was the first of many that felt like I was experiencing them again for the first time.
Each of the four non-Marrero members shared duties on all other instruments and took the lead on vocals at different times, providing a variety that is rarely seen in popular music. The differing voices and collective harmonies make Milo Greene a memorable band that stands out in a crowd of talented indie folk bands gaining popularity now. Their inclusion of collective percussion gives the crowd a beat to move to while the voices put the songs in your head for days.
What also stands out about Milo Greene is their realness on stage and the genuine enjoyment they have playing together. Heringer frequently found himself leaning on other members and laughing throughout the show out of sheer enjoyment. He and the other members were constantly offering their gratitude to the crowd for giving them the opportunity to play music in this venue. One can only imagine that a band can find plenty of awe in the increasing size of the venues they play, especially when they repeat cities. As a fan, I greatly appreciate their acknowledgement of gratitude as they continue to increase in popularity.
The band played every song from their album (I think) and threw in a pair of memorable covers by Midwestern indie juggernauts, Sufjan Stevens (“Chicago”) and Wilco (“A Shot in the Arm”), to fill out their set. 1957 finished off the set appropriately and left many of us in awe of the beauty we’d just seen; hoping and praying for the chance to experience it again soon.