Back in December 2016, I went to see one of Shearwater’s last shows of the Jet Plane and Oxbow tour at the Ottobar in Baltimore. It was a cold night, and the stage was festooned with large lights as part of Shearwater’s stage set up. The opener that night was a duo called Cross Record. Primarily using keyboards and guitars, the band — made up of Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski — created beautiful landscapes of sound.
So it was a joy to hear that over the past year Emily and Dan had started making a record with Jonathan Meiberg of Shearwater in a band that eventually became Loma. Loma performed at DC9 on Wednesday.
Loma’s self-titled debut album was released in February on the Sub Pop label, and you can tell it’s more than the sum of its parts. Songs like “Black Willow” (my personal favorite from the LP) sound like a collage of the two previous bands. It’s expansive, dark, and beautiful. Loma is definitely a record I find myself coming back to repeatedly, so I was eager to see how these songs would be translated on stage.
At DC9, the evening started with the vocal harmonies of Emily and Jonathan over the drone and lilting hum of “Who Is Speaking?” — the first track off the newly released album. And as Emily tapped out a rhythm on a metal tin drum, the song melded into “Dark Oscillations” with Dan taking over a steady beat on top sweeping lines: “Way down in the dark oscillations / Way down in the deep information / Where I can be reached.”
The rest of the band — Jonathan Mieberg on bass/guitar/vocals, Dan Duszynski on drums/vocals Emily Lee on keyboards/vocals, and Matt Schuessler on bass/guitar — then played into the next song, “Sundogs,” and after a few minutes, Emily carefully walked over to a drawing pad, illuminated by one of four long florescent tube lights (which Shearwater used during their last tour) and started a drawing that she would finish later in the set.
The evening’s set was dotted with sound pieces (a dog barking, bird song) and even, as Jonathan pointed out, a HEB grocery store freezer which put out a steady, beautiful drone. Things became a bit more energetic during “Relay Runner,” when Emily started dancing with mallets in hand.
The audience was there for a very special performance, and it was made even more special as Emily Cross introduced the band but when it came to introducing Emily Lee, who has been playing in Shearwater, she announced that it was Emily’s birthday and led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” albeit “a few hours early.”
Watch a video of “Black Willow” by Loma on YouTube:
The setlist included:
Who Is Speaking?
I Don’t Want Children
Loma is at the start of their tour for the debut album. Definitely check them out here for a stop near you.
Here are some pictures of Loma performing at DC9 on May 2, 2018. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.