– Slingshot Dakota: May 12, 2013 in Chicago
There’s a charming DIY feel about indie rock duo Slingshot Dakota, comprised of Carly Comando (keyboard, vocals) and Tom Patterson (drums, vocals), who also happen to be a couple. Patterson screenprints their gig posters himself, and, in 2011, they started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a new tour van and enough studio time to record a new album. It resulted in their most recent release, 2012’s Dark Hearts (and a new van). It all sounds pretty cute and scrappy, but while their ethos may be DIY, their sound is anything but.
As part of their first U.S. tour since the release of Dark Hearts, Slingshot Dakota performed at Chicago’s Township, whose restaurant/bar/venue setup with lackluster acoustics and limited view of the infinitesimal stage is not well-designed for even the small, unknown and local shows they host. This night was no exception, with the excellent but relatively little-known Slingshot Dakota headlining. Well, technically. While Slingshot Dakota was billed as the headliner, the evening was structured unusually as more of a showcase of the four openers (all with equally brief sets) than a traditional concert.
Chicago locals Misbehaving kicked the night off with short, punky songs that featured catchy instrumentation but inaudible vocals. Following was emo-tinged indie rock group Lifted Bells, composed of members of Braid, Their / They’re / There and Stay Ahead of The Weather. And finally new band Pet Symmetry played their first show ever wowing with “A Detailed and Poetic Physical Threat to the Person Who Intentionally Vandalized my 1994 Dodge Intrepid Behind Kate’s Apartment” (yes, that’s really the title) that sounded like a poppier take on Jets to Brazil’s “Wish List.”
Slingshot Dakota’s seven-song set drew from both Dark Hearts and 2008’s Their Dreams Are Dead But Ours Is The Golden Ghost. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to point out that Slingshot Dakota sounds much like the love child of Rainer Maria and Mates of State and, like a toddler seeking attention, they make a helluva lot of noise. But that’s where the analogy ends, because this is good noise, great noise. It’s astonishing the amount of sound produced by only two people, but theirs is full and intricate and at times approaches overpowering.
The duo set the tone for the night with their opening number, the rousing “May Day.” Like much of their oeuvre, it juxtaposes surprisingly somber, simplistic lyrics to an upbeat, driving tune, resolving with an exhortation to action. It’s a formula that’s repeated on nearly every song on Dark Hearts, and it mostly works. While the formula remains the same, the component pieces vary enough that each song is distinctive and engaging (with a few minor exceptions).
Throughout the all-too-brief set, Comando interspersed cheerful chatter and endearingly earnest inspirational spiel between numbers. Their performance of “Wave” was a particularly high note, its crashing wall of sound and Comando’s clear, vibrant wail creating a live experience much more engulfing and engrossing than the restrained album version. The only real complaint is that six songs and one encore is just not enough to satisfy. Fortunately, Slingshot Dakota are in the midst of a summer-long tour, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch them—and you absolutely should.
Catch Slingshot Dakota on tour:
5/21/13 Washington, DC @ The Lab
6/17/13 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
6/18/13 Pittsburgh, PA @ The Smiling Moose Upstairs
6/19/13 Richmond, VA @ Church of Abraham
6/20/13 Raleigh, NC @ King’s
6/22/13 Fayetteville, NC @ SoapBox Laundro Lounge
6/24/13 West Columbia, SC @ The New Brookland Tavern
6/26/13 Nashville, TN @ The End
7/17/13 Philadelphia, PA @ The Barbary
7/19-20/13 Winston-Salem, NC @ I Got Brains 2013