Tears Of Silver Setlist
Shhh, it’s a secret… but the best possible kind—
Ephemeral musical collective/indie super group Tears of Silver (composed of Ken [Posies] Stringfellow, Jesse [Midlake] Chandler, and Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper) played a unique and highly intimate secret pop-up show at creative arts incubator and gallery Squirrel Haus Arts, an unassuming building in the Longfellow neighborhood in South Minneapolis, playing songs from each other’s catalogs, as well as a few handpicked covers.
Like The Posies had done for their last couple area appearances, the group’s shows are purposefully staged in more eclectic locations (not revealed until 24 hours prior) and the capacity was very limited, making the memorable experience seem like an extended house concert with the band playing mere feet away in a small room.
Squirrel Haus Arts is an 8000 sq. foot gallery and design/build space featuring two galleries started by Michael and Donna Meyer in 2015 and their front gallery, dimly lit in rose hues with small string lighting along the ceiling, made for an ideal musical performance space.
The foursome, each an architect of art noise, combined on a unique set composed of their own respective material and some choice covers, done in an almost unplugged fashion, that weaved all together seamlessly over their ninety-minute set.
It was intriguing to hear Stringfellow’s contributions to Mercury Rev songs, Rev’s Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper singing harmonies on Posies and Big Star songs, and covers turned space rock and more dreamlike like Neil Young’s ‘Don’t Let it Bring You Down’.
One branch of said space rock covered another, as the group consisting of half Mercury Rev, turned a 1990 Flaming Lips cover into a Floydian spiral of psych delirium. Rev songs, starting with the piano-laden ‘Tonight it Shows’ were as transformative as ever (even in this stripped-down state) with Grasshopper’s harmonica punctuating the keys as Donahue’s vocals took us all onto another plain.
Guitarist Ken Stringfellow took center stage midway through for a four-song set of his own songs, helped in part by local singer Shelly Domke, who has collaborated with him live previously, and added a siren-like harmony to Stringfellow’s often lyrically complex songs, the highlight being ‘Whatever Hell’ with both singing part of the song off-mic , mesmerizing the audience close by.
Rev and Midlake keyboardist Jesse Chandler had his chance to shine as well, on the latter band’s ‘Young Bride’, which also showcased the group’s formidable harmonies and Chandler’s flute work. A gentle John Cale cover gave way to a trio of Mercury Rev tracks, always suggesting some kind of metamorphosis and seasonal change in nature- perfect on this night when early autumn’s crisp air and falling color-changing leaves, marked the scene outside.
‘The Dark is Rising’ was the evening’s opus, stretching over seven minutes, with Stringfellow then leading the band back to how the evening started, with a cover of Big Star as their ‘Thirteen’ would serve as an encore of sorts, and close out the performance.
For the diehard Mercury Rev and/or Stringfellow fans, this was a dream show and well worth twice the ticket cost; for those that were more fans of just one of the bands, it was the ideal chance to discover the music of the rest; and for everyone attending, Tears of Silver provided a highly memorable, eclectic, and ultimately transformative show and it was truly rarified air for anyone to witness this one-off project in an intimately secret performance.