March 12, 2016
I found Little May written up in a local Philly blog, listened to their latest record, For The Company, in its entirety (several times), then bought tickets for their Milkboy show that same night. Before even discovering that Aaron Dessner produced the record, there was a depth and complexity to Little May’s sound that immediately conjured The National’s ruminating intensity. It is a difficult thing for anyone, let alone an international band, to get a Philadelphia crowd pumped and moving at a show, but the energy in Milkboy that night reminded me of BOY performing Little Numbers for the first time in the US. The crowd unashamedly sang and cheered while Hannah Field and company beamed with delight.
The onstage chemistry between Fields, guitarist Liz Drummond, and guitar/keys player Annie Hamilton is absolutely electric
Field’s vocals paired with her Matt Berninger-like swagger projected a commanding presence, floating in the current without getting lost in the nervous tension of the music. Years of touring on an ever-growing stage have given Little May the confidence and power to take charge of an entire room. The onstage chemistry between Fields, guitarist Liz Drummond, and guitar/keys player Annie Hamilton is absolutely electric, with all three feeding off the others’ energy and tearing through album highlights “Home” and “Seven Hours” to start off the show. The connection between Drummond and drummer Catriona Hunter was particularly palpable. Hunter’s presence was relaxed, frequently flashing grins while hammering out feverish drum fills with inhuman control. While harmonizing with Field, Hamilton and Drummond deliver bright trickling guitar work that pulses with keys, creating ominous atmospheres like For The Company standout “Sinks.” As Drummond cries out “Something’s gonna rise,” Hunter flashes one more grin before leading them straight into the song’s chaotic breakdown.
What I saw in Little May is a group with a tremendous amount of talent and chemistry, particularly in a band as young as theirs. The emotional complexity of their music possesses a quiet charm deliver with a modest enthusiasm. Before the start of the show, I cheered and raised my hand for a high five from Catriona Hunter as the band approached the stage. She failed to notice me in time and I turned back to my date.
Hunter drums on my back, recovering from her whiffed high-five. I turned in time to see her grinning an apologetic, yet amused smile.
This among many other moments make Little May an incredibly endearing band. My advice for the next time Little May comes to Philadelphia: Buy the ticket.