Concert: Tash Sultana

On Saturday night, I went to my first concert in … a long time, maybe a decade? In fact, someone asked me when the last concert I went to was and it sent me down a rabbit hole because apparently I didn’t start using Google Calendar until much later than I remembered. After digging through emails, prior concert reviews, and a really poor memory, I put together that list. Then I remembered I keep ticket stubs, and found a couple more I forgot. I still don’t think it is comprehensive as I feel like I went to a lot more than that…

Anyway, the answer ended up being over 9 years ago, as I don’t think I actually went to see Skylar. So… last night.

The concert was at the Dillon Amphitheatre in Dillon, CO, a nice venue on the edge of the Dillon reservoir. The sold-out night started with a sudden rain and lightning that delayed the start by 45 minutes. Per the venue rules, any storm with lightning must either pass by 10 miles or not show lightning for 10 minutes. Once it passed, the sun came out almost immediately with a rainbow and fans cheering for the sun. One person yelled “that’s Colorado energy!” and he isn’t wrong.

The opening band, Chiiild, was on for 30 minutes and fairly muted as the lead singer’s voice wasn’t very clear and kind of muffled. Given the background instruments came through fine, while backup vocals did not, it seemed more like an audio issue.

At 8:05p Tash Sultana took the stage, alone, and played four or five songs in their fascinating single-musician looping style. Picking up an instrument, playing a bit, recording it, and then setting it on a loop. Then quickly grabbing another instrument or sitting at the drums and doing it again, eventually mixing in their own vocals. The level of talent to do it, with the speed they did it, is incredible to see.

After that, three more backing musicians came out to provide more instruments; keyboard, bass guitar, and drums, while Tash did vocals and another array of instruments including flutes and a saxophone. Throughout the night, Tash played at least eight different instruments, one of which was the guitar, but played at least four different types of guitar. After a 1h40m set, Tash did one encore for 16m, solo, playing a 12-string guitar. I have been fascinated by that instrument since hearing Javier Mas play it with Leonard Cohen in 2009.

Tash’s mastery of that guitar was played in a slightly different style so it wasn’t so haunting as Mas; but Tash’s style just bombarded the audience with incredible music that was elaborate and played at a pace that could be described as “a frenzy”. When you hear a musician described as “energetic”, it is often them dancing around the stage, or jumping around, into the music. Tash, on the other hand, brings it to a different level. Imagine all that and having to dance and hurry to the next spot to pick up a new instrument, with supporting staff that bring out at least one new instrument every song.

Tash’s style, using a variety of digital components for looping, also meant they could go to three different parts of the stage and bring in additional loops at any time using their hands or feet, as they often fell to their knees while playing the guitar, saxophone, or whatever else. If you are curious about the type of music and style of playing, here is an older home studio recording of ‘Jungle’ with just a guitar and digital loops providing more instrument sounds.

If that is years ago with one instrument in a home studio… imagine where they are now, with almost a dozen instruments and a decade more experience. I told a few people last night that I personally compared them to Prince. Sure, different music styles, but he was a master of so many instruments and able to record a wide swath of instruments himself. Tash? Same thing. I am eager to see them in a few more years.

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