Landmark day two was kicked off by the California-based trio In the Valley Below. The band took the stage early this afternoon for the day’sfirst round of concerts. Hailing from different parts of Tennessee and Michigan and forming together in the LA music scene, the three clearly reflect a great deal of regional music influence. The band falls in the indie genre, but a diverse array of other influences can be found buried in their tracks- most notably rock, folk, and electro-synth.
The strange, almost disturbingly beautiful elements of In the Valley Below’s songs are certainly brought out in their stage presence; they made the strong decision for the music to start before they even entered. The quick-paced, violin piercing through the blasting rhythm of Native American-style drums immediately brought this small, but enthusiastic crowd to a point of high energy.
The artists’ garb certainly matched their intriguing music. While the men of the stage (Jeffrey Jacob Mendel and Joshua Clair) dressed in unique, yet classically nostalgic black slacks, button downs, and suspenders, it was the wardrobe of the female lead singer, Angela Gail Mattson, that truly struck the crowd. Ms. Mattson sported a floor length kimono-style dress, red lipstick, and ornate black sunglasses. The best words to describe the set were unquestionably: disturbingly fascinating.
After their gradual stride to their instruments (including a theramin and a large synthesizer), they hitthe ground running with one of their album’s most upbeat songs, “Stand Up.” One would guess that with their slow gesturing and stoic attitude, the show would prove dull, but their music did all the talking, with smooth harmonies and crashing drums reflecting an exciting rock influence. In studio recordings, it’s easy to feel as though the band is reliant on synthesizers, draining out the traditional rock instruments that the band use to such great effect live. I had this impression until a wonderful guitar solo rung out over the electronics, their instruments blending with the electronic backing to inundate the crowd with sound.
Halfway through the show, the band broke their trippy exterior and danced around nearly as wildly as the crowd was. They proceeded to drive through a series of their most famous songs, including “Peaches” and “Neverminders,” leaving the audience wanting more and more of their mystical, eerie tracks.
In the Valley Below graciously took a detour early on in their fall tour to help out the great cause of Landmark Festival 2015, but the band is no stranger to the musical festival scene. Touring on SXSW and other group concerts, DC would kindly welcome them back for another eerily enticing show as soon as possible.