By: Michelle Taryn
“Check, check, one, two, three, hey, hey”. Dan Smith’s unmistakable voice hits the mic. It’s Tuesday at Atlanta’s landmark venue, the Masquerade. The Midwest mavens of radical verse and vibrant musical arrangements known as Listener are preparing to hit the stage.
Since their inception in 2007, Listener has pioneered an innovative genre of “Talk Music” that possesses a remarkable ability to make a direct connection to your heart and soul. They understand you. Sitting down with Listener is like sitting down with your best friends. Akin to a worldly psychic, Listener understands your emotions and composes them into powerful narratives that capture life’s ups and downs.This is where the magic happens.
Listener is without a doubt, a band best experienced live. Years of touring has revealed an ever-growing fan base that is equally dedicated as Dan (vocals, bass, trumpet), John (guitar) and Kris (drums) are to putting on a truly memorable show. Evocatively woven reflections of exploring the landscape of America’s crux can be heard throughout the provoking verses that echo vibrantly and resonate fully.
The night kicked off with, “You Have Never Lived Because You Have Never Died.” The audience settled in as Dan warmly welcomed everyone to the show. Listener delivered on the promise of a robust lineup packed full of a mixture of hits from both Time is a Machine and Wooden Heart. Each song had the audience riveted with an energy that was palpable. There is no doubt that Dan is a poet, spilling his soul, serenaded with instrumental imagery. “The three amigos” work in perfect synchronicity.
When “I Don’t Want to Live Forever” began, the audience lost themselves in a dance party. Atlanta came prepared with ample enthusiasm. Between songs Dan chatted with the audience on adventures from the road, knock-knock jokes, and debating upon whether a squid with a machine gun or a dragon with torpedo fingers was the fiercest fighter. A personal highlight was when Dan brought out his trumpet for “Falling in Love with Glaciers.” Every song had its own unique identity, but flowed in an overarching unity. The night closed with, “It Will All Happen the Way it Should.” Dan thanked the audience for coming out and gave praise for, “doing a great job listening.” By the time the set ended, fans were already making a beeline for their merch table — described by Dan as full of, “collectibles, gifts and keepsakes.”
As for what’s next, Dan says, “Our main focus is this tour; we’re kicking it out to the atmosphere, and doing our best. When we get home, we’re going to make some new music and keep touring.”
Life on the road agrees with Listener. They have developed an easygoing method to living and breathing their music. The driver gets to pick the tunes, ranging from Murder City Devils, Doomriders, and Converge to podcasts, including, This American Life. Such examples of the band’s “all for one and one for all” attitude gives them the ability to keep it real and work together with one goal in mind: to keep giving us what we want. This was my first time seeing Listener live and it’s safe to say it certainly will not be my last.
Photos by: Josh Geyer