By Shannon O’Callaghan
The German duo Milky Chance played its first concert in Boston to a sold-out crowd at the House of Blues on Sunday, March 29.
The show opened with Austrian singer James Hersey, who gave a shortened set because he had a hoarse voice. Hersey and his band put on an energetic show, getting the audience to enthusiastically shout and sing along. The lighthearted nature of the set brought the audience in; the guitarist showed off his smooth dance moves and included a bit of the Mission Impossible theme while playing the band’s hit song “Coming Over.” After putting every last bit of his voice into the final song, “Running Out,” Hersey and his crew left the stage to thunderous applause. The electro-pop beats of Hersey’s band were just right for setting the chilled-out mood that would continue throughout the night.
The anticipation for Milky Chance grew as the stage was assembled. Three large dreamcatchers hung high above the stage, which was scattered with totem pole-like structures. The effort to create a space that represented a far-away mystical forest was achieved, and it perfectly paired with the musical theme of the main event.
Milky Chance, made up of vocalist Clemens Rehbein and DJ Philipp Dausch, walked on stage beneath strobing lights. The pounding bass that accompanied the band’s entrance was the most intense part of the show. Looking like they had just rolled out of bed, the pair went right into playing tunes from its debut studio album, “Sadnecessary.”
Most of the crowd seemed to know Milky Chance’s repertoire quite well, singing along to each song. The mumbling nature combined with the gravelly voice of lead singer Clemens made it difficult to understand what was being sung, particularly if one was unfamiliar with the set. However, the music itself was enjoyable enough that it didn’t matter.
Taking advantage of the white dreamcatchers and glowing totem poles, each song featured its own unique lighting, setting the mood and carrying the audience along with it. The strongest reactions and most enthusiastic dancing came when Milky Chance played “Stolen Dance” and “Flashed Junk Minds,” two of its well-known songs. “Stolen Dance,” which had flashing blue, green and white lights paired with its more up-tempo pop beats, was the most dance-friendly selection. Pulsating green and white lights flooded the stage, washing out the band and creating a moody silhouette during “Flashed Junk Mind.” This peaceful lighting accompanied the slower tempo of the song, as the swaying audience sang along.
Rehbein and Dausch didn’t seem to feel as though they had to interact with the crowd much. The band kept its song introductions to a minimum and talked only to explain the stage set up. This relaxed approach did not come off as aloof – no one really seemed to mind. Shouts of “ich liebe dich” (“I love you” in German) were heard whenever there were lulls in the music, as well as envious and appreciative comments on Rehbein’s wild hair. There was some pushing and shoving, but the crowd was very relaxed – reflective of the mood of the music. People were content to just listen.
After coming back for an encore, the group closed with “Down by the River.” Milky Chance’s most popular, and arguably most danceable, song was a perfect way to end the concert. With a “thank you” and a heartfelt promise to return, the mellowest concert on the East Coast came to a close.
Milky Chance will return to Boston on July 30 and 31 as part of the band’s North American Summer Tour.
Photo by Maria Amasanti