November 12th, 2016 at Middle East Downstairs
By: Andrew Goldberg
Frankie Cosmos and Co. rock Cambridge on home stretch of tour.
Indie DIY star Frankie Cosmos, known to friends as Greta Kline, probably never dreamt of selling out shows when she launched her Bandcamp project in 2009. After her first major release, Zentropy, received warms reviews from critics across the board, Kline released 2015’s short and sweet Fit Me In EP, as well as 2016’s Bayonet Records debut Next Thing. Now, after becoming Pitchfork approved via Best New Music (and thank goodness, I was totally getting worried there), she has set out on a rigorous tour schedule that encompasses all of the U.S., as well as a stint in Europe. I was privileged to catch her and the band at the sold out Middle East Downstairs show a couple nights ago, along with their support, Big Thief. The show was packed from end to end, extending all the way back down the hall, and I was even able to chat a bit with David Maine, bassist for Frankie Cosmos, about how great it was to see this big of a turnout. You could tell the crowd was amped for the show to start up, and as Big Thief walked on, the energy was there to greet them.
Natives of Brooklyn, NY, Big Thief are definitely a force to be reckoned with live. Opening up for Frankie Cosmos is not an easy feat, but when you come up to the stage with as much poise and good vibes as they did, you’re bound to have a great set. Frontwoman Adrianne Lenker’s crooning yet dynamic voice fit easily with the band’s ability to play up both a softer ballad feel as well as a post-rock persona a la Car Seat Headrest. Something about their sound is uniquely originally, yet comfortingly familiar. Their set included music off their newest album, Masterpiece, which is out now via Saddle Creek Records.
For Frankie Cosmos, the night was all about having fun on stage and creating a joyful space for their fans. The set, including mostly new material from Next Thing and selections from Zentropy, was filled with gleeful energy and lovely coordinated dance routines, a live staple. Each song, although characteristically short lived, displayed the depth and musicality that makes Greta Kline such a unique and accomplished songwriter in her own right. “If I Had A Dog” and “Is It Possible / Sleep Song” highlighted their upbeat attitude, while songs like “Outside with the Cuties” and “Too Dark” showcase the evolution of Frankie Cosmos as a project, keeping things fresh and innovative.
As the night played on, the band included tracks from their upcoming release, Covers, which will feature select bedroom-recorded cover songs from the likes of Krill and Aaron Maine. You could tell that they were a little worn out from their tour, as this was the second to last stop before they headed home to NY for one last show. Besides the sometimes endearingly awkward interaction, including multiple instances of Greta attempting to express her gratitude for the wonderful atmosphere at the Middle East, this didn’t detract from their performance in the slightest. The set was filled with wonderful melodies, feathered rhythms, and heartfelt stories communicated via Kline’s wonderfully comforting voice. Their recent live showings cement Frankie Cosmos as a must see act moving forward. In typical fashion, her most recent effort, Covers, is out now on cassette only via Bayonet.