by Emma Turney
Boston-based band Darlingside made their triumphant return to Cambridge on tour for their new album Extralife. With their first ever sold out show at The Sinclair, the energy in the room felt like a welcome home party. The four-piece folk band played hits from the past along with several songs off the new album. The crowd was interesting due to the large age gap, as it seemed like Darlingside appealed to almost any demographic, from sixty-year-old men to nineteen-year-old girls (me). Opening the show was folk band Twain, whose similar sound to Darlingside set the calming mood for the evening.
When the quartet finally hit the stage, I was intrigued by how they managed to perform their harmonies live. Instead of each member standing alone, they crowded around one mic for the entirety of the show and used their spacing from each other to perfectly execute the harmonies that have made them Boston legends. Their extensive use of almost any instrument you could imagine also showed the band’s calculated performance. With Dave Senft on bass, Don Mitchell on guitar and banjo, Auyon Mukharji on violin and mandolin, and Harris Paseltiner on guitar and cello, the instrumentation among the band members was the most impressive part of the evening.
Their excitement over performing their new music back in Boston for the first time was infectious. Mukharji went off on a humorous tangent about how he is trying to forgive his bandmates for moving to Waltham, leaving him in Cambridge alone. Mitchell also made an emotional speech about all the people that were at The Sinclair that night that had helped them make Extralife a reality. The personal stories about the very city we were in made the show truly feel like a party amongst old friends.
The highlight of the evening came when Darlingside played my personal favorite songs of theirs, ‘Go Back’ and ‘Hold Your Head Up High.’ Off of their 2015 album Birds Say, ‘Go Back’ is a beautiful story of returning to the trueness of yourself. The performance was breathtaking with the four men beginning with a short acapella harmony. One of the lead singles off of their 2018 record, ‘Hold Your Head Up High’ is the most uplifting track to come from Extralife and the performance brought that feeling to The Sinclair.
When I reviewed Extralife, I was slightly critical of the band’s shift in sound. I still feel that way about most of the songs on the record, but after seeing them live I’ve come to the realization that Darlingside is truly at their best when performing in front of people.