The start of the tour may have been postponed a few days by winter weather, but Lost of the Trees finally found themselves opening for labelmate Neko Case Thursday night at the Wilbur Theatre. And the Chapel Hill, N.C. ensemble didn’t disappoint.
A set that started out as an understated duet from front man Ari Picker and Emma Nadeau quickly morphed into a dizzying onslaught of performance art. Midway through “Dead Bird,” the five other members of LITT emerged onto the stage under cover of an oversized dinosaur ghost-like costume that would serve as the backdrop for the rest of the show. With all seven performers in place, the band quickly kicked things up a notch with the percussion- and string-heavy “Garden,” another unreleased song pegged for the follow-up to last year’s excellent All Alone in an Empty House.
From there, it was on to more familiar territory for those in the packed theater who actually knew the opening act. “A Walk Around the Lake” led into the amped-up “Tall Trees,” a track from the recently re-released, expanded version of the band’s pre-Empty House EP Time Taunts Me.
Clad in costume-like attire, the group’s theatrical delivery underlines the drama that runs through Picker’s songs. Lost in the Trees walk a compelling fine line between art and rock, yet it’s an approach that could have alienated a crowd that was anxiously waiting to see the more country-leaning headliner. What initially came across as courteous curiosity on behalf of the audience eventually gave way to all-out enthusiasm as LITT moved from the more delicate “Song for the Painter” into a no-holds-barred take on the rocker “Fireplace.” By the time the band closed its 45-minute set with the singalong-fueled “Time Taunts Me,” it had cleared gained the respect of the unfamiliar crowd – and, from the looks of the line at the merch booth between acts, quite a few new fans as well.
Lost in the Trees’ Setlist:
New song (Dead Bird) / New song (Garden) / A Walk Around the Lake / Tall Trees / All Alone in an Empty House / Song for the Painter / Fireplace / Time Taunts Me