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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, September 29, 2023

San Fermin, Esmé Patterson create controlled chaos at High Noon Saloon

Wednesday night, I had the opportunity to see two amazing musical acts at the High Noon Saloon. San Fermin was in town with Esmé Patterson. Needless to say I was excited; I had already listened to both of their discographies on repeat for the past 3 days.

Patterson was up first and, for those who do not know her music, she is like a folk-rock Courtney Barnett. Regardless of her specific tone, her rock vocals rang out over both the Americana and punk-inspired songs. She played fantastic tracks off her recent album Woman to Woman, though she was not afraid to go back to some favorites on All Princes. “Time has stepped between me and you,” Patterson sang, and I was instantly transported back to memories of when timing didn’t quite work for certain relationships or new experiences. This song, “The Glow,” was beautifully done, evoking melancholy throughout High Noon Saloon.

Following Esmé Patterson was controlled chaos, the best descriptor of San Fermin I can give. The audience looked on with awe as the eight-piece, Brooklyn-based band serenaded us with old favorites and a surprising amount of new material. It is clear Ellis Ludwig-Leone, the band’s songwriter, has been working hard on material for their third studio album. No one person stood out during the concert; both the vocalists and the band were highlighted equally, and everyone had their moment to shine.

“It’s never enough in the moment, no matter who I go home with,” sang Allen Tate during “Emily.” Some compare his distinct voice to Matt Berninger of The National, but his voice is quite different. Yes, it has the same rumble, but it has more bell to it than Berninger’s. The audience started cheering, moving with the discordant music and immersed in their own world, transported there by both Ludwig-Leone’s lyrics and Tate’s voice.

Charlene Kaye, the lead female vocalist, sang wonderfully when the band did their title song, “Jackrabbit,” from their second album. Throughout the song she improvised beautifully, and the song itself lends its hand to improvisation quite well. I spoke to Ludwig-Leone about “Jackrabbit” in particular after the concert. He said that the song was about the panic he felt about the possibility of being trapped in a domestic life too soon. He spoke about how sometimes you want the stability that something like a suburb could offer, but also you could be terrified of it.

When asked about his muse in a more general sense, Ludwig-Leone said that he thinks most of his music comes from his anxieties about life. “Many songs are panic attacks to music,” Ludwig-Leone stated while not seeming at all like a nervous person. He spoke elegantly and confidently about his old music, while being more tentative about the new material they were practicing. “You don’t know if they’re going to like it,” he stated. When asked whether he meant the band or the audience, he smiled and said "both."

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